Review: No more hanging around for Elbow at the O2

Elbow certainly set their stall out quickly judging by a triumphant stadium gig at the O2 on Tuesday.

The Mercury Music Prize winning band has taken the step up to bigger venues for their latest tour of new album Build A Rocket Boys after twenty years plugging away in the British music scene.

But they seem perfectly at home in front of adoring thousands and lead singer Guy Garvey is quick to take advantage of his army of followers.

Announcing that “there will be audience participation of the cheesiest kind” would normally send most people running for the hills.

By the end of the concert though he has coaxed the whole stadium into repeating that their tour manager is “well fit” to give her a clip to use as her ringtone and also applauding Row Z for being the furthest away from the stage.


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Musically they don’t hang about either, ripping straight into hypnotic ten-minute opener The Birds.

Surprisingly, its refrain – “looking back is for the birds” – goes against so much of what follows because their latest set-list, with much from the new album, is one with its eyes firmly on the past.

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Garvey has described Build A Rocket as an attempt to recreate the excitement and joy of their earliest days as a band, as teenagers setting out to make their dreams a reality and “Lippy Kids” is a case in point.

Alongside sweeping string flourishes, its lyric “do they know those days are golden?” sums up the band’s reverence for the essentialness of hanging out on street corners and getting into trouble.

Garvey’s way with words isn’t consigned to the lyric sheets either as he turns part stand-up comedian throughout.

But from pounding new single Neat Little Rows to glorious finale One Day Like This, it is still the music which lives longest in the memory.

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