May 3rd, 2008
W/ Air Traffic
This English rock band from Manchester has yet to prove their commercial success with the public, but continue to receive acclaim from the critics. Elbow is one of those bands that have been around for a long time, going under the radar for some, even though they have been putting music out since the late 90s. I myself heard them within the past few years, and with their newest release, The Seldom Seen Kid, I imagined they would mostly play these tunes live to satisfy the crowd. Now let me preface by stating the new album is decent, not nearly my favorite, but it has some really great moments that I would love to see live. Leaders Of The Free World their self-produced masterpiece, and most achieved record is my favorite, so I was naturally hoping to witness these beauties. It’s not everyday a Brit – pop – rock band comes through Utah, let alone one that I’m extremely intrigued about seeing.
Unfortunately, due to a prior engagement I missed the first three songs by this quartet of Brits. One of the songs I apparently missed was my favorite Elbow song, the title track from Leaders Of The Free World. “DAMNIT,” I screamed at myself for being late, “this is what I sacrifice for being responsible.” As I delivered some British cookies and pastries from a fellow SLUG friend to Elbow’s ever so grateful tour manager the band was beginning another favorite track of mine from their record Mirrorball. The lead singer of Elbow, Guy Garvey, instantly encapsulated me; he brings a natural presence to the stage and is the soul of this band. His Ricky Gervais like British manly figure / goatee and Peter Gabrielesque voice resonated so sweetly between the walls of The Depot it would make the toughest war veteran cry in the corner with memories of his mother.
Elbow continued the night picking through their huge catalogue of songs with some proper tracks like “ Grounds For Divorce” and “Station Approach.” as well as rabid song requests from a drunken fan in the balcony screaming “MEXICAN STANDOFF!!!” Annoying the crowd between every song, Garvey politely addressed this fan stating they would not be playing “Mexican Standoff” tonight. This fan promptly started getting criticized by others in the crowd to “shut the fuck up.”
Once again, Garvey’s natural presence on stage made the show much more intimate. Not only during the songs, but he truly and genuinely interacted with the crowd between every song, with antidotes and jokes of everyday life. All eyes were on Guy and his misfit of band mates, who brought their own presence to the songwriting and presence of the band.
Before the last song Garvey addressed the crowd of the cliches of an encore and that he had decided to reverse the tradition and have the crowd sing to get them to come back on stage. This seems to be something they do every show. Garvey explained a drunken Denver night and bad version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” to the SLC crowd. After many failed attempts of requests for Bowie, The Stones, everyone finally agreed on something we all knew and could sing together, the Bill Withers classic “Lean On Me.”
Once Elbow graciously finished their last song, it took the crowd a minute or two to start singing. After it picked up I was proud of SLC for a minute, not only knowing every word to “Lean On Me,” but actually singing together and in tune. The band eventually came back out and congratulated us on a decent job and finished the encore with grace and beauty. I only wish more people were there to experience the greatness of a band that you don’t, and won’t, see everyday.