Elbow delight Sydney Theatre

Elbow – Enmore Theatre, 29 July 2011

In the slightly ragged glory of Sydney’s Edwardian theatre there was a warm, homely glow emanating from the stage.  Often cited as ‘The People’s band’ in the UK, the five men from Manchester categorically proved this beyond reasonable doubt as well as confirming themselves as the most laid-back, professional and delightful bands covering the circuit.  Lead singer Guy Garvey, curator, raconteur, and master conductor – everyone’s favourite uncle or older brother, never put a foot wrong.  Backed by a band who have matured with a delicate balance of power and poise, the Enmore was putty in their hands.  Garvey is both humility and sensitivity personified, teasing the crowd with witty banter, ‘Can I call you Syd – are we on those terms yet?’, but never presuming anything.  The spatial and poignant, ‘Lippy Kids’ is punctured by excitedly mispitched crowd whistling towards the end, poorly mimicking Garvey’s own, to which he admonishes, ‘Proud whistlers you are Sydney’.  

Having recently become festival favourites, voted best band at this year’s Glastonbury, and regularly featuring high up the festival bills their sound has taken on a more stately and well-rounded dynamic.  Second song in – ‘The Bones of You’ rumbles and swells, while ‘Neat little Rows’ muscular blues riff, stomps.  This is a sound that’s been honed on the road of large arenas and festival crowds, for the small, intimate surrounds of Enmore it’s exhilarating.  Although they are just adept at adding lightness and nuance, including a mid-gig lull, where  Garvey gathered around Craig Potters piano delivers a stripped back and plaintive, ‘The River’.  For the following song, ‘Perfect Weather to Fly’, this hushed intimacy is repeated with full band, imagining old friends jamming fireside in the comfort of each others company.  It is this relaxed demeanor, at ease with themselves and with the world that radiates from the stage and gives bonhomie to all.

Inevitably they save their uplifting, life affirming anthems for last.  Full voiced and rousing, ‘Open Arms’ closes the main set while predictably, every brides and TV Execs favourite tune, ‘One day like this’ becomes the show-stopper to end all shows.  After that there’s know where to go but home, with a spring in the step of course.


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