Elbow - Are the perfect band for a Bristol crowd

September 2nd 2017
Bristol, Clifton Downs (The Downs Festival), UK

Elbow show their naked ambition up on the Downs 

Elbow have become a bit of a mainstay of the festival circuits over the last few years, with their relatively easy to listen to sound combined with their sing along classics and a engaging front man in the shape of Guy Garvey. Tonight is was Bristol’s turn for a headline performance at the second ever Downs Festival held up on Clifton Downs on the edge of the city.

A large crowd had made their way to the main stage for the main act, although slightly reduced by Roni Size playing the second stage at the same, unfortunate clash for me too as would have loved to see them both. But it was Elbow that held out for us and we took our place amongst the throng as they made their way onto the stage. From the very first song Guy Garvey is at the front of the stage gesturing to the crowd, coming across as very genuine and actively engaging with the audience.

Elbow are great to see, and much better than a lot of acts I have seen in the past. I actually am pleased to say, that every act I have seen at this festival have been really good. Even though Elbow barely even acknowledge they have an audience, you still love them because it's just part of what makes them the band they are. During 'Bones of You', Guy got to meet one of his adoring fans, perhaps a bit closer than he envisaged he might. 

Much to the dissatisfaction of the security a fan managed to get on stage and I was a good song to choose as his bones was about we couldn’t see as he was completely stark bollock naked.  It was mentioned that perhaps ‘he wished it was a bit warmer’ but again once again showing his grace, instead of letting security bustle him off immediately Guy decided it would be better to have little dance and perhaps even more bravely a hug. Perhaps he didn’t know his arse from Elbow.

Fortunately the rest of the set was completed with everybody on stage wearing clothes. Although later some people near the front were noticed to have no shirts on and getting cold so it was requested security get them some covers via a song’s lyrics being changed to “bring them some blankets Liam” and sung by the entire audience.

As the night drew in the songs just kept coming, all drawing you in. Elbow are not a band I would probably put on at home being honest but they have the live performance down to a t having honed their act over the last twenty years or so.  

An Ivor Novello award is one of the pinnacle a  band can receive, recognising the song writing, and not many bands can boast two of them, but Elbow did and saved them for a blistering finale. First getting everybody in good voice with a rendition of ‘One day like This’ with the small string section adding to the atmosphere before the obligatory sing along of “throw those curtains wide…”.

This was followed by ‘Grounds for Divorce’ another song that has become a modern classic. A lot of acts could learn something on how to perform from Elbow, they made it a success of an evening bringing a wonderful festival to a close.  See you next year Bristol, here’s hoping they have something equally amazing lined up, 

Review by Jon Cooper and Photos of Guy Garvey by Steve Owen (Icarus Photography) 

Check Out! the Video for 'One Day Like This' Below...


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