Elbow, The O2, gig review

4.00

 

One singer, one pianist: stripped-back interludes may be a staple of arena rock gigs, proving the authenticity of mainstream acts, but for true intimacy you will struggle to beat Guy Garvey and keyboardist Craig Potter.

Apart from that pair, you can hear a pin drop during their haunting first verse of 'The Blanket Of Night', a plea for empathy with asylum seekers, before the rest of Elbow join in.

The Mancunian five-piece may have achieved national-treasure status by penning wedding staple 'One Day Like This', leading them to score the BBC's 2012 Olympic theme, yet this long-suffering group still revel in understatement.

This is especially the case on current album The Take Off And Landing Of Everything, where thankfully they refuse to try striking anthemic gold once more in the manner that made 2011's Build A Rocket Boys! a slight misstep. And despite its more minimal direction, as evinced on that pro-immigrant number, last month's follow-up has become Elbow's first number one album at the sixth time of asking.

Rather than throwing open curtains to greet the sunshine, Garvey is pondering middle-age, losing friends and breaking up, though the latter's impact is difficult to judge given the respected BBC6 broadcaster was bruised and worldly wise when his band first emerged in the early noughties. The bearded, bear-like singer pads from stage to runway and even if the latter is low enough for him to press the flesh, he remains a commanding figure. His constant cajoling for arm-waving and clapping feels like compensation for the delicacy provided by the new material that packs their set.

Elbow are still capable of grand gestures, progressing in short order from piano notes tinkling over moody electro pulses and involving percussion to Floydian arrangements both loud and intricate, aided by the judicious involvement of a seven-strong brass and strings section.

The trumpets add a plaintive salute to the elegiac 'My Sad Captains', a highlight from Take Off..., and an alarming no-wave punch to 'Fly Boy Blue'. Mid-set, the end of Garvey's ramp becomes a mini-stage for stripped-back readings of 'Great Expectations' and part of 'The Blanket...'.

Potter's upright piano used for this pair of ballads suggests bringing the feel of a saloon bar into the arena, an effect achieved elsewhere through Garvey's easy familiarity and rapport with his audience. “We lost a friend last week,” he says by way of introduction and dedication to 'The Night Will Always Win', beginning a ramble that ends sweetly with a toast to absent friends. Later, the frontman instigates an astonishing piece of audience participation he terms a reverse Mexican wave.

Thus, Elbow's two-hour set swings from the melancholy trip-hop influences of 'Charge' to the crunching grunge of 'Grounds For Divorce' (with a cameo from Garvey on his own drum kit), via the gliding strings of 'The Birds'. So many exquisite details require constant concentration and the fans get their due reward. Garvey essentially turns over 'One Day Like This' to them and the massed ranks happily take charge.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn