Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012

Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012Elbow @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 28th November 2012

Another triumphant concert from the band that became overnight sensations, after 15 years together. Everyone on their feet at the climax of One Day Like This, not a dry eye in the house, sore throats from singing along, aching arms from obeying the commands of puppet master Guy Garvey. But was there a spectre at the feast?

This tour was billed as a thank you to the fans, with very reasonable ticket prices, before the band take a break. Garvey is heading to New York to score a musical version of King Kong, the rest of the guys are going home to the northwest to be ‘family men’. How long this break will be seems to vary from interview to interview. 6 months? 2 years? Fingers crossed that the muse doesn’t desert them in the meantime.

They also have a new album on release, consisting of b-sides and various hard-to-find songs, so it was slightly surprising that they neither played anything from it, nor even mentioned its existence. So the old contractual obligation album then, as a sop to their record label for the inevitable delay of new material.

Back to tonight, in many ways this was a demonstration of how to do any arena gig. Lots of big rocking tunes like Grounds For Divorce and Leaders Of The Free World, plus several intimate moments, where in some reverse Tardis magic, they shrink the NIA to the size of a small club with beautifully passionate delivering of favourites such as The Night Will Always Win.

We got one totally new song in Charge, “This one’s about being an older guy, in a nightclub full of young people”, and a few tunes from their earlier albums that were missing from the last couple of tours, though inevitably 75% of the songs were from The Seldom Seen Kid and Build A Rocket Boys!

The lighting and visual effects were as inventive and sympathetic to the music as we’ve come to expect from Elbow and the musicianship impeccable. The star of the show though was obviously Garvey. He has the audience in the palm of his hand from the off and, for me, could well be the UK’s best frontman since Freddie Mercury.

Let’s hope we see them again sooner, rather than later.

Review by Alan Carruthers

Photos by Steve Gerrard

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