On Sunday, we returned from Los Angeles, where we saw Elbow perform at the Wiltern on Wednesday night in what I don’t hesitate to call the best show I’ve seen this year. (It’s just a shame we had to leave Phoenix to do it.)
Besides dodging an equipment nightmare – singer Guy Garvey informed the crowd that the band’s gear never made it from England, forcing the crew to scramble in L.A. – Elbow showed the poise and polish of a band willing to embrace the recognition it deserves, starting with last year’s Mercury Prize victory. There are fewer frontmen more endearing and genuine than Garvey, whose Storytellers-like chatter between songs engages fans, bringing a man of immense talent down to our size – he’s just a guy you want to have a drink with.
Though the set obviously leaned heavily on the Mercury-winning The Seldom Seen Kid – I have a newfound appreciation for Weather to Fly and The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver – the band plucked some choice gems from the back catalog: Newborn and Mexican Standoff among them (a setlist is posted here).
But as isolated moments go, I’m not ashamed to admit to a serious case of chills during the pre-encore finale of One Day Like This, a song whose overpowering positivity won even me over in 2008. Garvey outdid himself at the Wiltern, pulling two youngsters on stage to help him sing and conduct the feel-good singalong, draping his arms over their shoulders like they were old pals. Nobody would have complained if the song’s enduring chorus – Throw those curtains wide / one day like this a year would see me right – rode out for another hour.
Here’s some great video of the moment:
The next day, Elbow went on KCRW to perform a session for Morning Becomes Eclectic, repeating a few tracks from the Wiltern but adding some new ones (Fugitive Motel!).
KCRW set list: 1. Mirrorball; 2. Great Expectations; 3. Grounds for Divorce; 4. Fugitive Motel; 5. Scattered Black and Whites; 6. Puncture Repair; 7. One Day Like This.