LJ 2008-10-13 13:17:00
Looking through my list of gigs, I’m slightly annoyed that some of them passed without mention in my journal. It’s not to say that my journal should be an exhaustive list of everything I’ve ever done, but still, I think I would prefer to have written about some of those things. There are things that I’ve put off writing about until I can get a good run-up (Barbados being one of them), and then there are those things that I’ve put off and will now never be able to write about (like Joseph Arthur in Cardiff – interesting gig, not very true to the album versions of anything, bit of a disappointment).
So with that in mind, probably an idea to write about Elbow.. Recent winners of the Mercury Prize, they seemed in good spirits, perhaps bordering on smugness, though it’s hard to blame them – they’re more worthy winners than most years, which is reason enough in itself to celebrate. We saw them on the first of three consecutive nights at the Roundhouse, with ours being a date that sold out before they won the award, and the subsequent nights filling up afterwards, which I would say draws a clear line in the sand – our night was for fans, the other nights were for the followers of fads. Oh, the musical snobbery…
I won’t bored you with such wankiness as:
The soundscapes they paint, the peaks they reach and depths they plunge you to are just as breathtaking across their previous three albums as they are on the Mercury winner.
What does that mean in terms of music? The night wasn’t about being carried on some sort of mystical rollercoaster, it was about seeing a band play their music, and they did so flawlessly. I’m always surprised at just how good the vocals are on their live material. It probably helps that of the last five other acts I’ve seen live in the last year or so, four of them have been on revival tour type things (OMD, Erasure, Sting, James). It’s only natural that the quality of the voices would have diminished. Elbow, on the other hand, are in their prime right now, and that comes across best live.
They played a fairly similar set to the one we saw in Bristol earlier this year, which to be honest is enough to put me off going to another of their gigs until they’ve produced some new material. Still, there was enough variation to make it interesting, and keep it from being too predictable. There was a lot of material off their new album, played with no less skill than they do in the studio, but with plenty more impact. The guitars especially in songs like Grounds for Divorce were excellent in their, uh, “rockiness”, and the audience participation in One Day Like This is always nice and atmospheric..
Oh, and I’ve now actually seen a Mercury Award, albeit from a distance, which was quite the novelty :o)
Overall, there was a fantastic atmosphere.. My only real complaint is that Elbow’s style, while consistent with itself, is not really consistent across genres. There are songs to dance to, songs to sway to, songs to sing along to, but the gig itself doesn’t come across as being definitively one genre. Now that’s not a problem exactly, except that it’s hard to get into a specific mindset. Perhaps that’s more my failing than theirs though..
There were a couple of glaring omissions from the set list (specifically Grace Under Pressure and Forget Myself), but those can be forgiven. I was more familiar with their other material this time than last time, so I was able to get into more of the older songs than previously, which makes up for it.
Overall, it was a fantastic gig, at a fantastic venue. At the end of the show, a bunch of streamers went off and a bundle of balloons was released from the ceiling, which just added to the celebratory party atmosphere that had been present throughout, and just topped off the evening perfectly.
So I think, in summary, that this was a very good gig indeed :o)