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Arts and Entertainment

Elbow @ Wiltern, 7/22/09

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If Guy Garvey was half as pretty as Chris Martin, Elbow would have been at the top of the charts a long time ago, neck in neck with Coldplay. As it is Elbow's richly melodic rock, powered by Garvey's transcendent voice has long made them the darlings of critics and music geeks everywhere, but not as celebrated as they should be be the mainstream. Such is life.

Over the past ten years, Elbow has gathered an extremely diverse and loyal base, which poured into the Wiltern on a Wednesday night, selling out the house. There really is something magical about standing in between a behemoth of a man, covered in tattoos, in a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off, and a tiny scrap of a girl, who couldn't be more than sixteen, wearing tons of glittery eyeshadow, and hearing them both unabashedly belting out the same song at the top of their lungs.

The night started out a little rocky. Dressed like an angelic undertaker in all black, Garvey walked out of the blue misty haze and immediately informed us that their gear hadn't arrived and was still "somewhere over the Atlantic." He then thanked his crew for running around "ill and sleepless" to magically produce a borrowed set of instruments, and then launched into "Starlings" their first single off their most recent album, Seldom Seen Kid. The borrowed gear did not hinder them in the slightest, and the audience was soon enveloped in waves of melody accompanied by sharply honest lyrics.

Like the DJ of a radio show, Garvey felt the need to explain the motivation behind writing each one. "This song is about the morning after you fall in love," (Mirrorball), this song is irrelevant now that you have a new President." (Leaders of the Free World), "This is a song about telling the woman that you love how you feel moments before you die," (Switching Off). Which is an insight few bands bother with, and really sets the tone for the set. Audience participation is also heavily encouraged. For their mammoth closing number, "One Day Like This," Elbow had two small kids up on stage to help conduct the audience as they sang the chorus. Something about these two youngsters encouragement made the audience rise to the occasion and our voices rose as one filling the theater and spilling out into the street.

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Set List
Starlings'
'The Bones Of You'
'Mirrorball'
'Leaders Of The Free World'
'The Stops'
'Mexican Standoff'
'Grounds For Divorce'
'The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver'
'Switching Off'
'Newborn'
'Weather To Fly'
'One Day Like This'

Encore
'Some Riot'
'Station Approach'
'Scattered Blacks And Whites'