Elbow @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (Wed 21 Mar 2012)
First things first, if a ticket says “Doors 7:30pm”, then I assume that doors will open at 7:30pm, and the first band would be on around 8pm. Alas, no. As was the case with Trailer Park Boys last week, that wasn’t the case. A last minute check of the Festival Hall website educated us that doors were in fact opening at 7pm, and Bombay Bicycle Club would be on at 7:30 on the dot.
After a hastily scoffed dinner of dumplings in Carlton, we made out way to Festival Hall…
Bombay Bicycle Club
Bombay Bicycle Club opened with How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep as we entered the venue. To be honest, that’s about the only Bombay Bicycle Club song that I know well, apart from Open House, which they didn’t play.
They were superbly tight, but there was little to no talk from the stage, except for a half hearted thank-you to Elbow for having them. Like I said, it was tight, but almost clinical in its perfection. It seemed (to me anyway), that they were struggling without all the extra bells and whistles (percussion, samples etc) that they have on the albums. It didn’t seem to really quite get there in a live context, and almost felt flat in places. I see these guys as a poor mans Snow Patrol, in that the albums are immaculately produced and are sonically superb- the difference is that Snow Patrol pull it off live- these guys didn’t.
They also had a keyboard player on stage with them. It was a wee bit embarrassing I’ve gotta say- he was tucked away at the back, wearing all black, with lights rarely on him. You’d be forgiven for not realising he was there. That’s all well and good, except there were quite a few tracks where he was playing the main rhythm parts of the song, and to anyone not near the front, it would have given the appearance of a backing track.
All in all, I did enjoy their set, and I’d be keen to see them again at a festival, or as a support, but I don’t think I’d be shelling out to see them headline.
I was surprised when Elbow announced this tour. There was no new album (and according to Twitter they’re actually in the middle of recording now), there were no other dates apart from Singapore, and they were only here six months ago. Anyway- I’m not going to argue- Elbow could play every week at my local pub and I’d be there every time, without fail.
I was also surprised at the venue. Last time in Melbourne, they played at The Palace– a lovely venue, with a capacity of around 1800. This time they were at Festival Hall, which can fit around three times that, at 5500. The show didn’t sell out, but it was damned full, so I guess the gamble paid off.
As anyone who’s read about my previous times seeing Elbow, you’ll know how I feel about them. Nothing’s changed. This was a spectacular show, and even though I was a little disappointed the set was almost identical to when I saw them last year at The Palace, it was still mind-blowingly awesome. Considering it wasn’t an album tour, I was really hoping for some older stuff (there were quite a few people yelling for Newborn, myself included), but alas, one can’t have everything.
Guy Garvey was at his usual best with keeping the crowd entertained between songs (Bombay Bicycle Club could certainly learn a thing or two there), and with the exception of a few hilarious mistakes during The River, the band were flawless. Richard Jupp is one of my favourite drummers out there- not only is he technically brilliant, he also has a fantastic way of playing not quite what you’d expect. I rate him and Larry Mullen Jnr of U2 as my favourite two drummers, both for that reason.
I’m not really a fan of Festival Hall, but tonight the sound was exceptional and to be honest, I didn’t care that the venue’s just a tinderbox in the middle of nowhere. Having said that, if I could, I’d be flying to Brisbane to see them at the Tivoli this weekend, as I still rate my first Elbow show at that venue to be one of the best gigs I have ever witnessed.
Me and my compadres got to chatting to some of the audience in between Bombay Bicycle Club and Elbow, and it was surprising to hear how much of the crowd only knew the last album or two. Actually, that’s not surprising at all considering the size of this venue I guess. I still think that Leaders Of The Free World is their best album, so if you’re reading this and you don’t know much Elbow, do yourself a favour and get that album. Actually, go and get Asleep In The Back and Cast Of Thousands as well.
Once again, I cannot speak highly enough of this band, and wait with baited breath for the next album and tour.
I only did a small bit of video as I didn’t want to piss off the people behind me- I snapped off a few pics though. Until next time……
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