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- Koko, Camden Town »
- Elbow »
When Elbow started out, it was perpetually difficult to discover the band without being bombarded with the label politics that were slowly killing them. To their credit, the band refused to be grounded and this packed ‘low-key’ comeback is testament to their resilience and an indication of how far they’ve travelled from the veritable fall guys to a major driving force in Britain’s intelligent guitar fodder.
Considering Elbow don’t deal in stereotypical ‘hits’, shows like these are all the more impressive. They’ve a hardened, fiercely loyal fanbase that are not only intrigued by the forthcoming new material, but are baying to hear it. ‘Station Approach’, Guy Garvey’s ode to his hinterland, is stark reassurance that the band have not veered from the much-respected expansive beauty of their previous work. The song follows that tested template of Garvey’s maudlin tones with a hazy backing, building and swooping, lulling and falling.
It takes a brave band to preview new material without recalling the favoured old material, and Elbow aren’t stupid. ‘Red’, ‘Newborn’ and ‘Any Day Now’ are classic, epic songs without the faux need for elaborate string arrangements to pepper and plump. Garvey is in good spirits, enquiring as to the winner of this year’s Mercury Prize (Elbow indeed were nominees not many years back) and stands in awe of the grand surroundings of Koko’s lofty tiers.
The lead track from current LP Leaders Of The Free World allows Garvey the opportunity to section off the audience into those various tiers to assist in the clapping for a lengthy six minute duration and to his credit it almost works. The song itself is sky-scraping, expanding with each lethargic lament. On paper, the lack of verbs describes a one-trick pony, but the reality is so embracing and grand that they stand firm as one of the finest song writing bands of the present.
Bludgeoning the set with 'Fugitive Motel' and showcasing more delights from the new album, Elbow’s wit and romanticism have cocooned the attentive audience. Concluding on current single, ‘Forget Myself’ Garvey surveys the crowd’s appreciation with a knowing smile. It never seemed like Elbow had gone, but it takes a return as powerful as this to understand how they’ve been missed.
Not so much from rags to riches as having fallen into luck, armed with an astonishingly uplifting honesty; these are songs written ‘like they used to be’ and there’s no broader compliment to offer.
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