Elbow | Webster Hall | 4.26.2008

"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

The Hives | Webster Hall | 10.09.2007

You are pretty much guaranteed a good time at a Hives show. The finely-honed riffs, the expertly tailored suits, the flying scissor-kicks and unwavering bravado of frontman Pelle Almqvist. And all he demands in return is your undying adoration and worship.

Almqvist got what he was looking for at Webster Hall on Monday night, with most, if not all, of the packed audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Like everything else The Hives do, his persona is finely-tuned schtick but the act is so seamless, performed with utter conviction (it’s real funny too), that it never gets old. Plus, at barely 75 minutes, their stage show doesn’t give you a chance to look at your watch.

It was a short show for "An Evening with the Hives" (industry-speak for "no opening band") but I these Swedes understand the concept of "leave ’em wanting more" and didn’t overstay their welcome. No opener should’ve meant that the show started early, but when we got there at 7pm, they informed us that the band wasn’t going on till 9pm. My friend Dorrit, a Hives superfan, wanted to get a good spot so we decided to go in anyway. You haven’t lived till you’ve spent two hours not watching a band at Webster Hall, let me tell you.

Actually, time went by pretty quickly as we drank $7 Buds and the Hives’ show went by quicker. Decked out in new Ivy League blazers, and an ’80s-style neon logo behind them, the band looked more dapper than ever, and tore through the high points of their three albums, and about half of their upcoming fourth, The Black and White Album. (Some of which was produced by the Neptunes. Consider me curious.) I can’t say that any of the new songs, apart from single "Tick Tick Boom," had the immediate rush of "Main Offender," "Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones" or "Diabolic Scheme" but didn’t have me running for the bathroom either. It’s not like there’s ever been a big difference between any of their songs (there is a definite Hives formula), maybe they’re starting to run out of riffs. Maybe I just need to hear them a few more times. Luckily, the Hives’ manic energy is in no risk of depletion.

MP3: The Hives – Tick Tick Boom
(Pre-order The Black and White Album)

The Swedes really understand the importance of showmanship. The Hives are the whole package — the songs, the look, the attitude, the stage show, Pelle who sells it 100% all the time. (Electric Six would be so much more awesome if Dick Valentine personified on stage the character he plays on the albums.) The Hives are the faster, better-looking, more compact version of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, who are similarly talented. I wish more American bands placed as much emphasis on songwriting and being entertaining.

The Hives play Webster Hall again tonight and are heading out on tour with… Maroon 5. Very brave of Adam Levine to book such a kick-ass live powerhouse to open for them.

Utterly awesome photo swiped from Alexistheo’s Flickr photostream.
Punk Photo was there too and got some awesome shots. Tour dates after the jump.

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