By Josh Herwitt //
If you’ve ever seen Guy Garvey in action before, you may already know that the Elbow frontman enjoys engaging with the band’s fans quite a bit.
The 40-year-old Mancunian, after all, has never been shy when it comes to sharing his feelings with an audience during a live performance.
But with the English alt-rockers wrapping up their 12-date, North American tour in LA last week, Garvey was in quite the mood at the historic Wiltern.
“You have such a beautiful country here,” he proclaimed at one point in between songs.
It would be just one of several compliments Garvey would pay us over the course of the night, though none would be bolder than when he declared that the almost two-hour show was the quintet’s favorite of the tour “by far.”
Whether it was just another lesson in crowd-pleasing from Garvey or actually a statement of sincerity, it’s hard to know for sure. But from the permanent smile plastered across Garvey’s face, I wanted to believe he meant every word he said.
Of course, it’s not all that often that Elbow gets to visit Southern California, with its last appearance coming more than two years ago in support of 2011’s Build a Rocket Boys!
So when Garvey and his four bandmates — Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals), Craig Potter (keyboards, piano), Pete Turner (bass, backing vocals) and Richard Jupp (drums, percussion) — do get the chance to play in LA these days, they make sure to leave their fans with some lifelong memories.
On this latest pit stop, the 2008 Mercury Prize winners were in town to showcase the newest material in its catalog by way of The Take Off and Landing of Everything (read our review here), still plenty ripe after its mid-March release on Concord Records.
But Elbow’s sixth full-length studio album and its new record label haven’t been the only developments of late for a band whose members have all experienced significant changes in their personal lives — whether it’s been children, romance or breakup — over the past couple of years.
Garvey, for one, has had plenty of emotional baggage to overcome after splitting up with his girlfriend of 10 years during the making of The Take Off and Landing of Everything, prompting him to even rewrite some of the lyrics he had prepared for the 10-track LP.
Yet, at the nearly sold-out Wiltern, you wouldn’t have ever known that from listening to Garvey, as he dedicated song after song to the crowd — including one to a couple on its first date — and later graciously offered his gin and tonic to an overzealous woman standing in the first row.
The band, meanwhile, navigated its way through a 15-song setlist that was highlighted more by a few favorites off The Seldom Seen Kid (“The Bones of You” and “Grounds for Divorce”) than by anything from The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Elbow, in fact, only played a total of four songs from its new album, spending just enough time introducing cuts like “Charge” and “Real Life (Angel)” before reacquainting us with its older, more established work.
That may not have been more evident than during the Manchester outfit’s encore, which opened with the deliberate, yet sorrowful “Lippy Kids” and climaxed into hit single “One Day Like This” for the final push of the evening. For those who were in attendance, it marked a special moment for a band that has emerged as one of the UK’s most successful rock acts for close to two decades now.
Because if this was all the Elbow we were going to get for the next two or three years, it was everything we could have possibly wanted.
VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE OAKLAND SHOW.
Charge, The Bones of You, New York Morning, Real Life (Angel), The Night Will Always Win, Fly Boy Blue/Lunette, The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver, Great Expectations, Scattered Black and Whites, Mirrorball, The Birds, Grounds for Divorce, My Sad Captains
Lippy Kids, One Day Like This