As northern as killing your brothers kestrel…
Some bands make great records but don’t translate live. Some bands only work on stage. The best bands produce timeless records that sound even better when performed in front of an audience. Elbow are one such band.
They are also blessed with that most vital of components, an engaging frontman. Guy Garvey makes even big venues seem intimate with his conversational style and this relaxed atmosphere makes for an obliging and adoring crowd. When Garvey asks those in attendance to sing along or clap along or whistle along or wave along (he’s a demanding bugger) it never feels indulgent or forced. As he himself says ‘while we are all here, we might as well do a bunch of silly things’.
‘Gentle Storm’ kicks things off, one of many welcome cuts from the stunning new album Little Fictions. Some singers take a while to get into their stride. Garvey sounds perfect from the very first note. He introduces band members between songs, starting with guitarist Mark Potter, before the insistent strummed intro of ‘The Bones of You’ rings throughout the Doncaster Dome. ‘Fly Boy Blue’ follows and it feels particularly prescient as Garvey is expecting a baby any day now. Indeed, it’s a family affair for Garvey as he introduces his sister in the crowd before playing old track ‘Scattered Black and Whites’.
Songs from new album Little Fictions slip in effortlessly alongside older classics with the epic title track and ‘Kindling’ sounding particularly soaring. The band slow things down with a gorgeous rendition of ‘My Sad Captains’ before ‘The Birds’ chugs into new single ‘Magnificent (She Says)’.
For many other bands, a song as ubiquitous as ‘One Day Like This’ would become an overly familiar albatross around their necks but for Elbow it is just one more brilliant song in a set that is chock full of magic. The strings, the band and Garvey combine to do the track justice. It is a beautiful song performed beautifully.
The obligatory walk off precedes the encore of a triumphant ‘Lippy Kids’ and a savage rendition of ‘Grounds for Divorce’. As is customary, Garvey brings out his own drum kit to act as a demented conductor, leading the crowd in a dance of real ales, working men’s clubs and the north. Forget Yorkshire vs Lancashire, we are all northern brethren and tonight, Garvey is at the head of the table.