Elbow // Live Review & Photoset

29th June | Harbourside

Photos: Lee Ramsey

As the heat of the day gave way to a much cooler night and the blue sky turned a hazy purple, crowds gathered in the shelter of the Amphitheatre, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Elbow.

It’s been two years since the release of Little Fictions and with a new album on the horizon, Elbow’s show for Bristol Sounds was a loving look back over their music from the last decade and a tiny soundbite of what’s to come. Kicking off the night with a song of two halves, it seemed Elbow were signalling towards a night of contrasting sounds and participant vocals with ‘Fly Boy Blue/Lunette’ from their 2014 album The Take Off and Landing of Everything. ‘The Bones of You’ delivered the crowd their first taste of Elbow’s heavier progressive sound and with it, everyone started to move more vigorously.

‘Magnificent (She Says)’ had the whole crowd hanging on to every word, waiting for that spine tingling, goosebump inducing, “it’s all gonna be magnificent”. Be it with soaring violins or nostalgic lyrics, ‘Mirrorball’ and ‘Lippy Kids’ had listeners transfixed in the same, doting way, singing the lyrics back with so much heart, I’m sure you could’ve heard it from Glastonbury.

By the end of ‘Little Fictions’, pints were going everywhere as the crowd became more animated, but in the calm before the storm you could appreciate the grounding message in Garvey’s often revealing lyrics. Under a canvas of darkness, the stage lights shone brighter, people danced harder and the energy in the Amphitheatre lifted. With the announcement of their new song, Garvey broke into the ballad-like ‘Empires’ followed by the tension building, swaggering ‘Station Approach’ and ‘Kindling’.

Guy Garvey isn’t your average frontman, his laid-back look leaves no room for frills but his open, honest approach to his fans and his music makes him a truly loveable character. He jokes about his band mates’ antics and their long-standing relationship. At one point he singles out a boy called Alfie to sing with him, asks Alfie where’s he’s from, only for Alfie to reply “Kent” to an onslaught of boos.

Unphased, Garvey laughs it off and with that the uncanny violin motif of ‘One Day Like This’ brings the crowd’s attention back to the music in a beat. As the band’s signature song neared its end, Garvey invited the crowd to sing its outro, keeping their vocals echoing around the harbour long after the instrument ended.

From a moment of serene acapella to the biggest explosion of the night, ‘Grounds for Divorce’ cut through the crowd with its defiant rhythm and plucky, discordant melody. There’s no denying the song’s nod towards the effects of alcoholism, but having enjoyed an evening of sensible drinking, it seemed like a poignant song to end with. Treating the fans to an extended guitar solo and taking one last opportunity to properly rock out, not a single person was left stationary as they sang back the last, “someday we’ll be drinking with the seldom seen kid.”

See the video for ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ here: