Elbow may fill arenas and headline massive festivals back home across the pond, but that doesn’t mean the band is any less loved by its Stateside fans. Here, the crowds are just smaller. Much, much smaller.
It’s a real treat to be able to see such a polished, passionate and humble rock act in an intimate setting like the Paradise, where fans jammed into every nook and cranny for a rare U.S. headlining show from the British band last night. The enthusiastic crowd sang and clapped along on every turn in the band’s well-paced, 100-plus minute set, which focused equally on its latest effort, Build a Rocket Boys!, and its Mercury Music Prize-winning predecessor, The Seldom Seen Kid – with a few selections from 2005’s Leaders of the Free World mixed in for good measure.
The show started in epic fashion as Rocket Boys opener “The Birds” morphed over 8 minutes from an understated, clicking back-beat to a jagged, soaring conclusion. Kid standouts “The Bones of You” and “Mirrorball” – complete with disco-ball lighting – followed, and the pounding “Neat Little Rows” was met with rapturous applause. If there was any doubt that it was going to be a special evening, “Grounds for Divorce” quickly laid them to rest, with burly front man Guy Garvey orchestrating a massive sing-along and then getting medieval on a drum set up at center stage as the song kicked into its heavy groove.
Throughout the show, Elbow cemented their standing as masters of rock dynamics. They picked just the right moments to step back and slow things down, with Garvey and Craig Potter performing “Puncture Repair” and “The River” as a duo mid-set. After a thoroughly uplifting “Lippy Kids,” the band gathered around Potter’s keyboard rig to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a drink. The crowd broke into a round of “Happy Birthday,” and the quintet eventually eased into the understated intro to “Weather to Fly” before returning to its posts to finish out the song. “Open Arms” closed the set in predictably epic fashion, only to be upstaged by the earth-rattling, anthemic “One Day Like This” to close out the encore.
In the opening slot, Glasser clearly had the goods as a songwriter and performer, though her duo set was stripped of much of the impact she made with the full-band shows that accompanied the release of “Ring” last year.
The Birds / The Bones of You / Mirrorball / Neat Little Rows / Grounds for Divorce / The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver / Great Expectations / The Night Will Always Win / Puncture Repair / The River / Lippy Kids / Weather to Fly / Open Arms // Starlings / Station Approach / One Day Like This