Greg Gannicott’s Blog

Elbow – Bristol Colston Hall, 9th April 2008

Posted in Music by Greg Gannicott on April 11, 2008
Tags: , , , , ,

For me, one of the signs of a good gig is when you come out of it with a whole new appreciation for the band’s music. This is exactly what happened for me with Elbow.

I now hear The Seldom Seen Kid (their latest album) in a new light. The same applies to older songs such as Newborn (from their debut Asleep in the Back).

As I hoped, the show kicked off with the opener to The Seldom Seen Kid – Starlings – with the stage lighting up with every trumpet blast. This was followed by the second track on The Seldom Seen Kid, The Bones of You. Next up was the only real disapointment of the night for me. As my favourite Elbow track, I was really looking forward to Leaders of the Free World. And although it wasn’t a bad performance, it didn’t blow me away. That’s where the disapointments ended for the night.

As you’d come to expect after hearing his radio show on BBC 6Music , Garvey himself was a very down to earth, dry, extremely funny person, with excellent in between song banter. Pitting the stalls against the balcony, he generated an excellent atmosphere. The crowd was up for bantering with him, laying up some great responses from him. He was so quick off the mark at times it even left me wondering if they were planted. I highly doubt it though.

As the night went on, the atmosphere got better. The first big response was for recent single Grounds For Divorce. Given its slow plodding beat, the song has a superb energy about it. It felt like the whole room was encompassed by the sound.

Lead singer Guy Garvey‘s voice is sublime, on the night sounding as though it had gone through hours of studio production. He effortlessly belts out song after song. Certain songs, such as set closer One Day Like This come alive when you see the passion put into it by Garvey. The slightly annoying strings rift in the background now takes on new meaning as the song sounds like the soundtrack to the greatest day of your life.

Other tracks benefiting from the live treatment are Newborn and The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver. The performance of Newborn reminded me of why I first associated Elbow with Pink Floyd. They gradually build the song up, moving from one section to another, eventually culminating in a mind blowing ending (think Mogwai ).

There is no other way to describe the live performance of The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver than magnificent. Garvey explained the story of the song, dryly dedicating it to all those in the audience who works in the heavy construction industry to much laughter. During the song the stage remained entirely green at all times, as the song grew and grew in intensity and emotion.

Before announcing the final song before the encore, he points out that its obvious that they are going to return, so he’d like to put a twist on it. He asks that we sing a song in return. Amongst the suggestions from the crowd is I’ve Got a Combine Harvester. He opts for this to much applause and laughter from the crowd.

The final (final) song of the night is Grace Under Pressure. Perhaps not as great live as it could be, its still extremely powerful.

I believe I’ve seen Elbow twice before (both at Glastonbury). On both occasions they didn’t exactly set my world on fire. Tonight however, is a different story. I look forward to seeing them again.

If anyone has the setlist for Weds night, please post a comment. Cheers.


I posted this review on and someone kindly posted a photo of the set list on there. I love the web!

5 Responses to 'Elbow – Bristol Colston Hall, 9th April 2008'

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  1. David said,

    Hey Greg, just saw Elbow last night in Minneapolis and can report that the American leg of the tour is going well so far, it seems. One of the best shows (of 4 or so) by them I’ve seen yet (including the Glastonbury show in 2002 it sounds like you might also have been at where we all sang at the end of Grace Under Pressure.

    I posted the set list to last night’s show at Am working on a full review. I think the guys were really happy at how much we’ve come to love the band over the years and are responding really well to to it.


  2. Greg said,

    Hi David.

    Yeah I was at the 2002 Glastonbury performance. Did you ever get your name on the innersleeve for Cast of Thousands?

    If truth be told, the fact I got my name in it was the main reason I purchased that album. I enjoyed Asleep in the Back but probably not quite enough to buy ‘Thousands’. I’m glad I did though. Its taken me a few years to appreciate it but I’m enjoying ‘Thousands’ more and more with every listen.

  3. David said,

    Greg, yes, my name got printed on the Cast of Thousands sleeve and had a friend buy it for me the day it came out in the UK for the same reason. 🙂

    My full review of the Minneapolis Elbow show went up over the weekend. One of the better shows I’ve seen all year.

    Apparently, the guys went to a local DJ night I sometimes go to and hung out after their set. Sadly, I failed to head over. In addition to bringing it at their shows, they’re also great guys.

    Looking forward to the two shows at Glasto this summer. Festival ticket purchased – now for the slightly more expensive airline tickets. 🙂

  4. Greg said,

    Thanks for posting a link to your review. I’ll have a read in a bit.

    Based on his 6Music show and in-between song banter I can imagine that Guy Garvey would be a funny and interesting man to chat to.

    Sadly I’ll only be going to the Sunday for this Glastonbury (its a ticket you can get for being a local resident (about 12 miles away)). Usually I’m a cert to go for the 5 days, but we’ve already moved home this year and we’re getting married in July so its not really an option financially. I do hope to catch Elbow in ‘The Queens Head’ though. I’d imagine it will be a packed bar for that performance.

  5. […] in April of last year I posted a review of an Elbow gig, and a couple days later the set-list for the gig. And every time they tour, those posts get what I […]

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