SOANGELICATE'S ROCK REPORT: ELBOW @ CENTER STAGE, ATLANTA

I have been a huge Elbow fan for years but had never been able to get to one of their shows, so when I saw that they would be opening for Coldplay I thought 2 things: hooray for finally getting to see this band that I love, and boo for having to see them as an opener for Coldplay.  Then they announced that they were going to do a small handful of headlining shows in the US, the closest one to me being in Atlanta, and I was ecstatic.  I bought my $20 tickets, booked a hotel room and started counting the days until the show.

Suddenly 4 months had passed and we were driving past the venue looking for a parking space, eyeballing at the line of people leading from the doors of the Center Stage theater as it stretched down the street to the corner and starting to make a right angle down the block.  We were there 30 minutes before doors and there had to already be 50+ people there ahead of us, so I resigned myself right there to the fact that I was never going to get anywhere near the stage.  When the doors finally opened and we got inside the venue, I was amazed that there was hardly anyone down on the floor in front of the stage, instead people had gone the seats.  Their laziness was my gain and I took my place up at the front.  Killing time (and vodka) before the show, I chatted with the people around me.  Turns out I was not only not the only one to have traveled to the show, I had not even remotely traveled the farthest as I ended up striking up a conversation with someone from Portland who had seen them all over the country.  “See?” I told my boyfriend, “I’m not crazy.”  He simply countered that I was just not the craziEST.  Fair enough.

Right on time Guy Garvey, Elbow’s frontman, came out to introduce their opener, Jesca Hoop.  He joked that she doesn’t have a band because they weren’t going to pay for one then out came an unassuming chick with a guitar.  She reminded me of Regina Spektor with a touch more white chick soul.  Not Janis soul, maybe more like Joni- or Judy-type soul.

Finally it was time for the main act and they opened the show with a bang, or rather a blare.  Five band members with trumpets lined the front of stage and kicked off “Starlings” to a cheering crowd that had finally gotten out of their seats and filled up the floor.  The small stage in this intimate 1100 capacity venue was also full, with the 5 members of Elbow with their guitars, drums, keyboards, horns, etc, plus 2 (rather well-endowed) violinists.  Guy worked the crowd like a carnival barker, joking around and even giving props to a girl who held up a sign taking credit for a thread on their message board that praised keyboardist Craig Potter.  And there were singalongs.  Lots of them.  And I love that shit.  I love being a part of a chorus of thousands (or in this case hundreds), especially when it’s to music from a band I adore.

As we all sang along to the chorus of “On A Day Like This”, I knew that this moment in time is why we drove 7 1/2 hours for 3 1/2 hours of Elbow, and it was soooo well worth it.  Yep, this show was pretty much perfect, I even got a setlist.  Oh yes, I went full teenage fangirl for this show and I’m proud of it.  I’ve already warned the boyfriend that I fully intend to travel as far as needed to see them should they come back across the pond, and they’re so good I’d even consider still seeing them as an opener if they come back when Coldplay reschedules their Tampa show.  Maybe.

We didn’t know Elbow had a relaxed camera policy so we’d left the SLR at the hotel, so forgive the uber graininess but you can see more pix from the show here.

Elbow – On A Day Like This
Elbow – Starlings

SoAngelicate's Indie Corner- Elbow's The Seldom Seen Kid

Note from Autopsy IV: I am out this weekend babysitting my new puppy so I’ve lined up a whole slew of guest writers for the week. I hope y’all enjoy them and the music they bring to our attention as much as I am. I’ll be back early next week.

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of the year.  It’s the fourth album from this British band and even if you don’t think you’ve heard them before, you’ve probably at least heard bits of them, as according to their wiki their music has been in commercials for the game Left 4 Dead, the British drama series The Devil’s Whore, the trailer for the Coen Brothers’ film Burn After Reading, a rally driving segment on Top Gear and trails for Rallysport on Dave.  And even though they haven’t gotten a ton of press in the US, they also won the Mercury Prize for The Seldom Seen Kid, which is a pretty big deal…in Britain.

All I know is that regardless of how little fanfare they’ve received this side of the water, this album is fucking brilliant.  It’s hard to say what the standout tracks are since I love them all so much, so here’s some thoughts on a handful of the songs.  “Weather to Fly” has chilled out percussion, entrancing vocals and mellow horns.  I love this song.  A lot.  The aforementioned “Grounds for Divorce” is a pounding, rhythmic song with a chorus that’s got kind of a call and response feel and reminds me of Peter Gabriel a bit, both in the music and also Guy Garvey’s voice.  “The Bones of You” and “Starlings” are just unnecessarily gorgeous, with lyrics that make me want to simultaneously swoon and smack my boyfriend for not saying things like this about me. And I can’t even begin to explain how much I love “On a Day Like This” but every time it plays I become an optimist for 6 minutes and 34 seconds.

The album is full of nigh perfect music, imo, peppered with soothing strings and blasts of brass from the dozen or so additional musicians brought in to play violin, viola, coronet, flugel and other orchestral instruments.  Some of the songs are dreamy and slow, some are trippy and swimmy, some are a little harder and all have these amazing lyrics that just floor me.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a chick album, I just happen to have a soft spot for love songs and this has some great ones, real panty removers.  The best I can do to compare them with other music would be that there are flavors of Peter Gabriel, Radiohead (who are apparently huge fans), Verve, Travis and Keane, but they are so much more than the sum of these comparisons.

Check them out for yourself and see why this album is Essential Listening for me.

Elbow- On a Day Like This
Elbow- Grounds For Divorce
Elbow- The Bones of You

And as a bonus, here’s the boys covering Amy Winehouse from an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge

Elbow- Back to Black

Elbow on myspace, buy The Seldom Seen Kid on iTunes