"That’s something you don’t hear very often," joked Guy Garvey early in his bands performance at Webster Hall. The phrase in question was a shouted "Elbow rocks!" from the audience.
It’s true. Though Elbow do rock in a gentle, yet epic sort of way. This was the first night of their American tour for Elbow’s great, just-released fourth album, The Seldom-Seen Kid which is full of the heartfelt mini-epics the band are so good at. Joined on this tour by two violist/backup singers, Elbow were grander than usual, but it was Garvey’s charm, humor, and smokey voice that makes people lifetime fans.
Another phrase you don’t hear that often is "pristine sound at Webster Hall." I bash the venue nearly every time I write about it but not this time. If it wasn’t for the "thump thump" of Awesome ’80s Prom coming from below I would call it perfect. We got most of The Seldom Seen Kid, a nice chunk of Leaders of the Free World (my favorite album of ’05), plus older favorites "Newborn" and "Grace Under Pressure." This was the best Elbow show I’ve attended.
There were also two great sing-a-long-moments. Garvey orchestrated a crowd-assist for set-closer "On a Day Like This" which the Webster Hall audience were more than happy to help with. I have a feeling this is going to happen at all the shows on the tour, so if you want to start practicing now, here’s a little help:
MP3: Elbow – One Day Like This
(buy The Seldom-Seen Kid)
The second was a bit more special. "If you want us to come back for an encore, you’re gonna have to sing," he dared us, and then asked the crowd for suggestions. "It’s gotta be something everyone knows." Someone yelled "Killing Me Softly" and a broad smile grew across Garvey’s face. "Brilliant choice." Everyone laughed but I think few thought it would really happen. But then, after the band went offstage, sure enough the song broke out in the middle of the crowd and filled the whole hall. Garvey came out almost immediately, grinning "You lovely fuckers!" Right back at you, Guy!
Also in attendance: Music Snobbery and Johnny Leather. Go see them if you can. Dates:
April 29 – Park West, Chicago, IL
April 30 – Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN
May 2 – Bluebird Theatre, Denver, CO
May 3 – The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT
May 5 – Showbox at the Market, Seattle, WA
May 6 – St Andrew’s Wesley Church, Vancouver, Canada
May 8 – Bimbo’s 365 club, San Francisco, CA
May 9 – Avalon, Los Angeles, CA