Elbow at Wembley Arena - 14th March 2009


Mar 17 2009, 2:23

Well, they're the best British band & have garnered fully deserved awards all over the place recently in the wake of the phemomenal The Seldom Seen Kid album & tonight they played their biggest ever gig, in front of 12,000 people. When they started out, did they ever think that one day they'd be playing Wembley Arena? Well, here they were & blimey, did they put on one hell of a show!

Guy Garvey is the only frontman I know who can make the biggest of venues seem like an intimate gig. They walked onto the stage at 8.45pm to wild cheering, launched into Starlings &, gosh, it was wonderful. The way his voice went up & up halfway through the song just send the shivers down my spine into overdrive. After the song Guy announced that this wasn't the first time they'd played an arena - "There was a rollerskating place in Bury called The Arena!" Even in such a huge venue, he still makes you feel like he's talking to you like he'd talk to a mate down the pub - he's a man of the people & is possessed of enough charm, dry wit, warmth & charisma to fill Wembley several times over. Mirrorball was as achingly romantic & utterly beautiful as ever, written the day after he fell in love with the woman he loves - how beautiful is that?

While introducing Leaders of the Free World, Guy said that "this next track is a bit redundant after the election of Barack Obama" & then asked us to clap, so we did, but he meant clap along to the song! "How many people know the song The Stops?" asked Guy. He then asked us to sing the "Don't look down" part of the song, which we duly obliged. Then we were in for a treat as Guy welcomed Richard Hawley onstage so we knew that The Fix was in! Richard rambled away for a bit then said "We'd better get on with it - I've got a bus to catch!"

Just before Grounds for Divorce, Guy asked everyone who had a drink to raise it in the air! "Cheers everyone!" & he raised his glass & then we were treated to a blistering, bluesy blast that sounded absolutely immense & scraped the walls & ceiling of the arena & of course we had Guy thwacking the hell out of that lump of metal when that HUGE riff came in - always a highlight of any Elbow gig!

An extended mellower interlude followed & forgive me but I can't remember exactly when Guy did this but I'll just mention it now! He explained that he didn't want to waste the opportunity while he had such a huge choir at his disposal ( i.e - us!) & then explained that he was gonna sing some lines & asked us to sing the lines back to him & he said that if it sounded good, they'd record it & use it on their next album! :D So we sang back at Guy & it sounded fantastic! We were momentarily confused as hell when Guy tried to explain what next song Switching Off was about. Then they launched into this lost gem from the Cast of Thousands album & my heart just melted. This has always been one of my fave songs of theirs, but since when did it sound as tender & beautiful as it did tonight?

Somewhere around this time (again, apologies if the continuity of this review gets a little hazy!) Guy announced that "this is the time in the gig where we all pop over to Craig's house" (I think it was Craig anyway! To put it another way, it was an excuse for the band to take a break & have a drink! Guy asked his bandmates "How'd you think the gig's going? I'm enjoying myself. Not sure about that lot though!" Cue huge laughter & cheering then Guy raised his glass to us again!

When Guy sits down, that means only one thing - Newborn - & it was as epic, tear-jerking, sky-scraping & just plain awesome as ever. Its still my fave song of theirs but a certain song coming up soon is running it very close. There then followed a lovely acoustic section of Weather to Fly before launching into the track proper complete with that pitch perfect & hauntingly beautiful falsetto - "Are you having the time of your lives?" & we all shouted back that we were. Of course we were! :D

With the mimimum of preambles, the tell tale strings that mark the intro of One Day Like This drifted in & there was a Mexican wave of standing up as everyone in the seated area got to their feet. I really can't describe the feeling you get when you hear this song live, but I'll try. It kind of feels like you're being picked up & that you're floating way up in the air & the song is what is keeping you airborne. Its just euphoria of an order that is too high for me to compute, it makes me smile, sing along, weep with sheer happiness, wave my arms around, clap along, everything that a song should do. Just before the big choral finale, jets of dry ice & glitter shot up from the ground & floated in the air as 12,000 people sang along "Throw those curtains wide. One day like this a year would see me right." I'm just shaking my head & wondering how anyone could conjure a song that can make you feel utterly invincible, like this does. It was the most beautiful, celebratory gig moment - I think hearing this live has to be one of those things that everyone should experience at least once in their life - it really is that special.

To rapturous cheering, they went offstage. Five minutes of clapping cheering & foot-stomping later, they were back for the encore. "Like we weren't gonna come back on!" said Guy! A three song encore followed culminating in a beautiful, tear-jerking, heart-wrenchingly lovely Scattered Black and Whites that Guy dedicated to their families & to all of us. He thanked us for giving them one of the best nights of their lives & told us how much they appreciated our support through the years & commented on how easy it was to stay in & get music for free & therefore, how happy they were that we'd all taken a night out to see them. The pleasure was ours, Guy! :D

Ok then, the all important setlist -

The Bones Of You
Leaders Of The Free World
The Stops
The Fix
Mexican Standoff
Forget Myself
Grounds For Divorce
The Loneliness Of a Tower Crane Driver
Switching Off
Weather To Fly
One Day Like This


Some Riot
Station Approach
Scattered Black And Whites

When they announced this gig, I wasn't sure if they could pull it off. Stupid me for doubting! Their music expands to fill the space available. The bigger songs sounded huge & the gentler moments managed to sound beautifully intimate. Guy was pitch perfect throughout, the rest of the band were spot-on, the atmosphere was wonderful & friendly & even in such a huge venue, it still felt like an intimate gig. Guy was his usual warm, witty & wonderful self & everything was just perfect. What more can you ask for in a gig? All that could've made it even more perfect was to have a friend with me to share this beautiful gig with.

Oh & did I mention that they played for 2 whole hours? :D

Roll on the next gig, the next album & I look forward to hearing our singing on the next album! Thank you Elbow, you never let us down. :D


  • thehoneyinside

    beautiful, as always alex! :) (makes me wish i could've been there!)

    Mar 17 2009, 19:39
  • RobinJR

    I stumbled upon this review through kacheung's group and I have to say, very well written :). I've seen Elbow twice so far, once at the Lowlands festival last year and once in a smaller venue in November and both shows were among the best I've ever seen :). I'm pretty psyched I'm gonna see them for the third time in 9 months at the Pinkpop festival in May. Tbh I didn't expect them to be able to fill a large venue like Wembley, but I suppose they're bigger in England than they are here in Holland.

    Mar 18 2009, 14:18
  • shalinkumra

    Amazing review for an amazing band. Pretty gutted I wasn't there with you to be honest - don't think I'd have forgiven myself if they'd played Red, so that makes me feel a little better. Here's to hoping for a Glasto appearance - though no idea how they could beat last summer's performances?! Just put on The Stops - my current, non-obvious Elbow fave before I go to bed.

    Mar 20 2009, 0:10
  • Al_73

    Cheers, Mon :) Thanks for reading! It was a truly awesome gig - hope I captured the essence of the gig in my review! ...& thanks for your nice words too, Robin :) Ah, weren't they just awesome at Lowlands? :D That was the highlight of my Lowlands last year. Hey, that's great that you're seeing them again soon at Pinkpop :) Yeah, they've always had a loyal following in the UK , but ever since The Seldom Seen Kid, they've gone massive! Aw & thank you too, Shalin :) I wish you'd have been there - such a beautiful gig & such a warm & lovely gig for such a big venue. Ah yeah, last year's Glasto shows were just stunning - read somewhere that Guy said that their Other Stage show on the Saturday last year was one of the best things they've ever done :) Oh & there's a lovely long interview with Guy Garvey in this months Q magazine - the one with Lily Allen on the cover - check it out if you get the chance :) Aw, The Stops is a beautiful & underrated track - was so nice to hear that live again :) Thank you for taking the time to read my rambling journal :)

    Mar 20 2009, 5:11
  • kacheung

    Recently purchased this months Q after seeing they had an interview with Brittain's most huggable teddybear. Well that and Lily ^^ he's as sympathetic as one thinks he is when you just know him thru gigs and music. Be sure to notify me when there's another Saint Guy interview in the bigger magazines, sir! Blimey, Newborn and ODLT again? No wonder you keep going to those Elbow gigs ^^

    Mar 20 2009, 16:06
  • Al_73

    Yeah, it is a great interview with the teddy bear! :) I'll keep my eyes peeled for any more St Guy interviews & give you the nod, sir! Ah yeah, I don't think they could ever not play those two songs now. They must've known when they wrote ODLT that it would turn into a massive set-closer. I am always happy to give a little of my hard earned cash as long as they keep on touring - one of those ultra-special bands, sir! :D Cheers for reading! :)

    Mar 21 2009, 4:27
  • Elbowminded

    It was great...One Day Like This was like it was happening in a dreamworld!!

    Mar 21 2009, 18:11
  • Al_73

    It sure was! :D & you're so right about ODLT - it really was like the most perfect dream made real! Thanks for reading & happy that you loved the gig! :D

    Mar 31 2009, 1:12
  • hanny1987

    Acoustice version of Weather to Fly??! you lucky lucky man you, I adore that song so much - och that must have been a beautiful rendition :o) I want to hear One Day Like This live before I die and then everything will be perfect. Beautiful review Alex xx

    Apr 4 2009, 16:29
  • Al_73

    Indeed, it was a lovely moment in a gig stuffed with lovely moments! :D You will most assuredly hear One Day Like This live one day & it will be truly awesome & totally life-affirming! :D Thank you for reading, Hannah & thank you as always for your kind words - glad you liked it! :) xx

    Apr 7 2009, 1:58
  • FluffySpider

    It was a wonderful gig. Really wonderful. Nice review too, only just stumbled across it.

    Mag 22 2009, 16:16
  • Al_73

    Hey, thanks for the nice comment :) I only just noticed it! Yeah, such an awesome gig from such a beautiful band :)

    Lug 24 2009, 23:53
Visualizza tutti (12 commenti)
Aggiungi un commento. Accedi a Last.fm o registrati (è gratuito).