Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Elbow concert review: Santa Ana, Calif.

High Rise PR
Elbow performed last night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. and kept the capacity crowd enthralled for nearly two hours.

The Manchester alt-rock band is wrapping up a brief North American tour this week behind its stellar latest album Little Fictions, which came out earlier this year, debuted at No. 1 and went gold in the UK. 

On Nov. 24, Elbow will release a Best of collection.

Fans attending the Orange County gig were in for a special treat, as the venue's under-600 capacity was a far cry from the large festivals and arenas the veteran quartet often headlines back home.

Front man Guy Garvey seemed to revel in that intimacy. He enthused about how much he liked the place twice and felt like everyone was gathered inside his bicycle basket. Before launching the 16-song set with a hypnotic "Any Day Now" (from 2001 debut album Asleep in the Back), Garvey raised a glass of beer and toasted the audience. 

Throughout the evening, Elbow's congenial singer urged people to clap or wave their arms along to the music (which got instant reactions), provided brief insights about the songs and sang them with dramatic gestures.

An elegant "Head for Supplies" and the positive vibe of "Magnificent (She Says)" - the first two of five Little Fictions selections played - were heightened by two female violinist/backing vocalists. In fact, the latter tune's title would be an apt description of the entire concert. 

The romantic "Mirrorball," with a recurring piano motif by Craig Potter and subtle strings, was just plain stunning, while some slide guitar work by Potter's brother Mark on "The Birds" elevated the dramatic undertow even more. The 8 1/2-minute-long title track to Little Fictions, with shifting tempos, was mesmerizing. Fans sang along loudly to Elbow's biggest UK hit: the majestic and uplifting main set closer, "One Day Like This."

Come encore time, the band returned for a haunting "Lippy Kids." Then a couple drums were brought to the front of the stage so Garvey could pound away on the ominous, slide guitar-driven top 20 UK single, "Grounds for Divorce."

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