The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, ON
May 17, 2014
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Morgan Hotston
Whether we realize it or not, when people tell us to just be ourselves on that big first date, most of us are secretly hoping to be like Guy Garvey.
For the past 17 years, Garvey has been the ever-charming frontman of Elbow - nearly two decades spent raising glasses, leading crowds in song, and generally just effortlessly engaging audiences as they've supported their six acclaimed studio albums. Sadly, over the band's substantial lifetime, they haven't taken to Canadian stages too often, so their reappearance in support of March's The Take Off and Landing of Everything was met with an absolutely packed house at The Danforth Music Hall on Saturday.
Sticky had the luck of seeing Garvey et al on stage in that crowded house with every fan hanging off of every note and proving that Brit rock hasn't lost its lustre on this side of the Atlantic. And, if it seems like people spend a lot of paying most attention to this particular front man when they talk about the band, it's probably with good reason. Elbow as a whole offered up a performance that was probably as close to perfect as anyone could come, and these musicians are so hugely talented that it could really be pretty easy to hate them. But, from start to finish, Garvey was the one in the spotlight on stage, without shame but without ego. He wasn't just the one filling the room with those heady vocals - he was the one telling stories, flirting with the crowd, cracking uncle jokes, and tugging the heart strings. But he gave his comrades their due, introducing each with gusto, telling their stories, and basically making sure that the audience knew he isn't the only member of Elbow. All the while, he was the greatest portion of the act. He was the one that reminded us how to really celebrate the ones we miss before breaking into "The Night Will Always Win", he was the one that forced all of those hardly-reluctant hands in the air after every few songs, and he was the one to out the Toronto audience as a "fickle mistress" when they booed upon learning that the set was coming to a close. Elbow's live show was and likely always will be a tour de force, a massive victory.. but Garvey is the one wielding the sword.
While our writer didn't make arrive in time to see John Grant on stage in support of Elbow, our photographer was there to bring the visuals of the singer-songwriter's visit to Toronto.