Concerts Concerts Better Late Than Never: Elbow Crosses the Atlantic

Better Late Than Never: Elbow Crosses the Atlantic

Elbow at Sound Academy
Sound Academy in Toronto, ON
September 28, 2011

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Pete Nema

For Toronto fans, six years was worth the wait.


This past Wednesday, Toronto saw the return of the British rock group Elbow, in a visit shouldering the anticipation of thousands of fans that have been twiddling their thumbs since the group's last headlining show in April 2006. Of course, that eager audience was probably somewhat smaller than the kind to which the band is accustomed; while Elbow has achieved massive fame across the Atlantic, their fan base is somewhat more modest in North America. Modest, however, is on a sliding scale. Drawing a crowd of nearly 2000 to a show in the east end on a stormy week night is certainly not a novice endeavour, especially when you consider the kind of fans that Elbow found awaiting them. Casual listeners in no sense of the word, the audience was teeming with people hanging off of every note played by the band and every word sung by the charming Guy Garvey.

And why not? Wednesday's show would have made a fan out of anyone. With twenty years of experience behind them, Elbow knows how to perform. Over and above leading funny sing-alongs that morphed into fan favourites, Garvey was relentlessly engaging with clever banter, and his heavy tenor didn't miss a note from opener to final encore. The rest of the band was just as strong, always in perfect melody and always stunningly crisp and clear - a feat at its most impressive with the complex walls of sound in "Neat Little Row" and the booming ten-minute opener "The Birds."

The setlist wasn't all high-energy, though. In fact, a substantial chunk of Elbow's set would have been best spent holding hands with someone special. Listening to the night's renditions of ballads like "The Night Will Always Win" and "Starlings" would have been enough to seal the deal for even the most timid of lovers, even if Garvey hadn't made his best effort between songs to coax "I love you's" out of the newest couples in the audience. Even so, it turned out that most of the proclamations of love were made to the band who, when they weren't busy doing perfect justice to their recorded work, were breaking their backs to draw in every fan on the floor.

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