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Elbow at the 2011 Popped! Music Festival

27 Sep

A little after 8 o’clock on Friday at the Popped! Music Festival in Philadelphia, Elbow took the stage, and, in an instant, it was evident that these five rockers were the veterans of the two day line-up. Not to say that the acts who came before them were bad or amateurish in any way, but Elbow is a flash forward of who these acts can become two decades down the line. In fact, singer Guy Garvey announced, “We’re celebrating 20 years together,” after someone down in front wished him a Happy 20th.

Overall, Garvey had a very laid back vibe about him, but the band’s musical stylings were anything but. Accompanied by two “violin girls,” Elbow’s sound was grandiose and robust – a transcendental, otherworldly force of spell binding noise.

The set opened with “The Birds,” and “The Bones of You,” a pair of haunting, celestial ballads that turned into an all out aural assault three songs in when the band launched into “Grounds for Divorce.”  Striations of their Brit pop/rock counterparts Duran Duran, New Order and even Oasis were laced throughout their songs, outing them as a product of the early 90s. However, they lent credit to the old adage, “You’re only as young as you feel.”

Most of the acts playing Popped! were solidly planted in their early to mid-twenties, but despite being a tad further along in years, Garvey was very pro-youth, fitting right in with the largely college-age crowd. “If you treat people like dicks it’s because you’re a dick,” he said, after referring to youths being inaccurately judged and mistreated in the band’s native UK.

And youth seems to be a theme for the band on their fifth and latest release, Build a Rocket Boys!  The album originally had the working title Lippy Kids, and according to Elbow’s Wiki page, Garvey told BBC 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveney,

“It’s quite a nostalgic thing. I’ve got a thing about growing up – not needing to! But a certain period of your life when – well kids are called ‘hoodies’ these days, aren’t they, when they reach their teens. I remember it being an amazing important time, so I’ve written a lot about that.”

This nostalgia trip notion showed most in “Lippy Kids” off their latest. It also confirmed comparisons in the media that Garvey is Peter Gabriel’s vocal doppelganger. “Look out for each other. Cheers,” Garvey said before launching into the final song for the evening, “One Day Like This.” At Popped! last Friday night, Elbow separated the men from the boys, and hopefully, they’ll be rocking the same way two more decades from now.

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