Elbow at the O2 Arena
Venerable rockers Elbow recently embarked on a tour of their greatest music, following the release of a Best Of compilation at the end of last year, and brought it to a conclusion in London. For what was a very special evening, the band was joined by a very special guest: John Grant.
The former Czars vocalist performed to a venue at capacity for 50 minutes, winning over the headliner’s overlap audience – if he didn’t have their attention already – with the canorous synths of Pale Green Ghosts and the earworm chorus of Marz. Every word of Grant’s bruisingly personal songwriting, most present in It Doesn’t Matter to Him, was soaked in by the O2, who responded with well-earned cheers and applause.
Elbow took the stage and tore it up for a majestic two hours. Frontman Guy Garvey sung a collection of songs distinctive for being closest to his heart. Themes included love, arguments (Little Friction) and friendship (Puncture Repair). His friendship with John Grant was highlighted: the Mancunian crooner sung the American musician’s praises before recalling him to treat everyone with their breathtaking duet Kindling (Fickle Flame).
Garvey brought his infinite pack of good vibes with him. Spotlighting each section of the arena, he showed love for Elbow enthusiasts down South. He ensured each member of the five-piece got their credit due by directing ovations their way, including drummer Alex Reeves, who unequivocally proved his suitable replacement credentials. The management team received appreciation for helping the group power through the tour despite the Beast from the East.
Thankfully their stop in the capital city happened on a pleasantly dry night, made all the more enjoyable by the Mercury Prize-winning band’s enthusiasm for fan participation. “Please express yourself with your arms,” suggested the lead singer as he made bizarre movements for all to emulate during romance paean Mirrorball. “Let’s get silly because this is gonna be our last gig for a while,” he explained.
A collective vocal exercise late on was necessary to embellish those many crowd members who were less desirous of chanting along, a rarity for a greatest hits presentation. At the end, Garvey acknowledged, “Some of us are sing-a-longers, some of us aren’t, but all of us are gonna sing along to this one” – obviously referring to One Day Like This. Their perennial anthem was an expectedly stirring finale to a big-hearted celebration of music, people and nice weather.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Elbow’s website here.
Watch the video for Kindling (Fickle Flame) featuring John Grant here: