03 May 2008

My favorite Elbow

I posted some of this show report on the Gomez boards about last night's show at the Bluebird Theater, in Denver:

I only caught the tail end of Air Traffic's set (because of an ugly and in retrospect easy-to-avoid detour about two miles from the theater), but they sounded like they knew what they were doing up there. The crowd was enthusiastic, which I am always excited to see. I love when people open up to the opener.

I played with my camera and made some little movies. I'll have to figure out the easiest way to get them onto youtube, because some of them might be pretty good. I'll have to stitch them into a little montage. It will be short on the music but fun.

Mostly I danced and let the band's sounds wow me. I ended up parking myself right up at the foot of the stage and like I do at gomez shows felt like the perfect audience. I love the sonic textures they make, even if the sound was pretty sucky right up at the front. I loved being able to see the drummer because he is so much of what makes Elbow's stuff not just meander down some moody alleyway -- instead it goes somewhere. And he was having a blast, and so I was having a blast, and the rest of us were, too.

Only a couple of minutes were disrupted by obliviously chatting drinkers who had wandered down to the front. But I think Guy Garvey's glares at them while he was singing (how could he not notice the chatterboxes when everyone else down there was hanging on his every word?) and mine might have given them the clue to hie themselves back to the bar because it got nice and quiet again after that.

Such a good show -- I don't keep setlists but they played lots of the new album, which is great and I will run right out and get (because I forgot last night). And they played a few other faves of mine. "Leaders of the Free World" sounded arm-pumpingly good but that song always leaves me a little cold even though I share every last sentiment in it. Everything else they do gets me, though. Guy's a poet of sound and words and we're lucky they come six thousand miles to play for us.

Guy does seem like a nice guy, too. He gets down in the crowd and doesn't seem to mind as many cameras and cellphones in his face as friendly faces. Likes his drinks, for sure. (After he begged for drinks, asking all the while whether it was terrible to beg his audience members for drinks, someone sent up a couple of shots, in classy plastic cups, yum, and he was like a kid at christmas. "What's this?")

Before he started one song, Guy introduced it as "a song about buildings and solitude," after which he added wryly, "Aren't they all?" and started playing (as if to drive home his point) a completely different song from the one I thought was coming next.

In a quiet moment between songs a fellow in the audience chose to fill the space with an outsized yell, and Guy said, "I've noticed there are always one or two, um, bears, or one-man football crowds, in every audience." He paused a few beats and then said, "But we welcome everyone, people, bears, one-man football crowds, everyone," to which he got some nice bear yells in response. It seemed such a way to respond, with a yes instead of a no.

Everything culminated in the last song, "Grace Under Pressure," which as it always does called up the phrase "joyful noise" in my mind. The drums in that song just drive me wild, and I was digging the drumming while Guy went around shaking the hands of about everyone on the floor in front of him. But he looked over at me a couple of times, and then at the end, he walked right over to me and picked up my hand and kissed it. I couldn't help myself -- I took his hand and kissed it back. I'm still smiling.

p.s. This totally reminds me of the t-shirt I wore last night. The guitar-player kitten might even be the same one that's on my shirt, now that I look closely.

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