Live Review: Elbow at The Olympia Theatre

“Can I have three and a half thousand cans of Guinness please?” says Guy midway through Elbow’s Olympia Theatre set, addressing the unseen figure backstage who has the unenviable job of being the band’s personal bartender for the evening. “Get one of the journalists to report that I said that and Guinness might actually make it happen!” (Cue laughter, applause and this reviewer’s desire to see Guinness capitalise on perhaps the biggest celebrity endorsement they’ll ever get).

Guy Garvey – bearded, beer-bellied and full of jovially banter – always looks a bit like he walked on-stage fully intending to do a stand-up comedy routine, happened to stumble across a live band, and just discovered that he has an incredible baritone. His showmanship is exemplary; the way he interacts with his audience makes it seem as if every lyric is honestly addressed, as if it’s all something he desperately needs to get off his chest.

Whatever works for Guy is fine by us; Elbow are seven albums into a career which hit its zenith when they released Seldom Seen Kid in 2008. It never really came back down after that. Kicking off a UK tour which features sell-out shows across the country, the audience at the Olympia have the very special privilege of being the first crowd to see Elbow perform songs from their new album Little Fictions.

New single ‘Gentle Storm’ begins a set which is dotted generously with songs from Little Fictions, all of which are surprisingly well executed considering their freshness to the live stage (also considering that the band have had to adapt to using guest drummers following the departure of former member Richard Jupp).

‘Bones Of You’, ‘Mirrorball’, and ‘New York Morning’ tick boxes on the list of Elbow songs we’re eager to here live. In a set that nears the two hour mark, there’s more than enough packed in for everyone before Elbow reach their finale.

“We really have to go after this last song,” says Guy at the end of the set, laughing at his own joke before whispering into the microphone: “I do love this bit of subterfuge we musicians do before our encore”. The band “finishes” with ‘Grounds For Divorce’, leave, then come back on stage to pull the last anthemic ace up that they have up their sleeve.

‘One Day Like This’ really is a modern-day classic and one of the most uplifting songs penned in the last ten years. It’s belted out with certainty by the audience as much as it is by Guy. The Bury singer called the Dublin audience his favourite in the world; perhaps we’re naïve to believe him, but we still sing along like we very much do...

 

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