United Kingdom's Elbow Triumphant Return During Their North East Tour


After a three and a half year absence, English indie rock darlings Elbow made their triumphant return to the U.S. this month, hitting the major cities on both coasts throughout November. The tour comes on the heels of their seventh studio release, Little Fictions, which was released in February to wild acclaim. 

A venue snafu turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Philadelphians, when a two-night stint in New York City was shortened by one, leaving a gap in their schedule that Philly's Fillmore was able to fill. Fans lined up early, excited to see a band who hadn't visited their city since May of 2014. The show didn't sell out like many of the stops on this tour, but the room buzzed with excitement. The anticipation grew to a crescendo when the stage went black, strobe lights were turned on and Elbow walked out to the heavy industrial buzz of an electric guitar, one of Britain's biggest bands wrapped in an everyman package of denim and button-down shirts.

They opened with the slow burn of "Any Day Now," the lead song off their first album, frontman Guy Garvey's deep Mancunian timbre cutting through the gloom of the darkened room. The night would go on to showcase beloved songs from almost all of their LPs, including the singles "Magnificent (She Says)" and "All Disco" from Little Fictions. The band, which features Mark Potter on guitar, Pete Turner on bass, Craig Potter on keys, and new addition Alex Reeves (who replaced longtime member Richard Jupp) on drums, seemed relaxed and happy; Garvey bantered and joked with the crowd throughout the night, checking periodically that everyone was doing okay, leading the room in singalongs, and encouraging waving arms and jazz hands. Almost two hours later, they closed the show with the graceful, reflective "Lippy Kids" and a bombastic rendition of "Grounds for Divorce."

If the Philly audience was excited, the one at the legendary 9:30 Club in Washington DC the following night was euphoric. It's rare that an audience joins together in such perfect soulful community, but it happened that night. The joy was palpable, the singing of the audience so loud, it came close to matching Garvey's amplified voice. Garvey is a master at engaging the crowd, a jovial teddy bear of a man who makes even the largest sold out venue feel intimate by making eye contact with and pointing at seemingly every person in the room.

He dubbed a fellow in the middle of the room "Scrabble King" after the fellow challenged Garvey's claim of being the best Scrabble player in the room, and as the band took their bows at the end of the show, Garvey presented his drumsticks to a boy of about eight who had been standing at the rail the entire night. The famed Dennis and Lois, purveyors of New York's punk rock scene for decades who are featured in Elbow's video for "New York Morning," were also in attendance, and Garvey said that while they usually dedicate "New York Morning" to the couple, that night the band chose to honor them with the love song "Mirrorball." But the most special moment of the night occurred during the anthemic "One Day Like This", when, to the obvious delight of the band, all twelve hundred people in the 9:30 Club sang the refrain in lovely harmony.

American audiences might have to endure a lengthy gap in between tours, but most will agree that Elbow, with their sweet, hopeful tales of love, are worth the wait.

Featured Photography Credit: Elbow

Coverage by Colleen Martin

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