March 28, 2012, 9:49 pm Nicola Heath Yahoo!7 Music

Our Yahoo!7 Music reviewer, Nicola heath, saw Manchester indie band Elbow perform at Sydney's Hordern Pavillion.


Elbow at the Hordern Pavilion. Credit: Getty Images.

After 18 years or so years of quietly plodding along, global success finally came to Manchester indie outfit Elbow in 2008 when the quintet won the UK's Mercury Prize with their album 'The Seldom Seen Kid'.

Elbow made the transition from critics' yearly top ten lists to festival favourites (the Manchester lads nearly stole the show at last year's Glastonbury) with remarkable ease, and it's no surprise that the Hordern Pavilion is filled tonight with a slightly older and mostly English crowd.

Elbow at the Hordern Pavilion. Credit: Getty Images.

He may look more like a portly publican than the frontman of a band that fills stadia, but there's nothing incongruous about Guy Garvey's natural flair for the stage. It's clear from early on he's infinitely charismatic; his quips and friendly banter, which always threaten to digress into long-winded tangents, punctuate each song. He's a generous performer who loves his job.

With a flair for making poetry out of the prosaic, Garvey sings of "sleeping through the day" and "kissing like we invented it" in the percussive tune 'Mirrorball', of "marriage and an orange grove" in 'Open Arms', and youth and the poignancy of passing time in the elegiac 'Build a Rocket, Boys!'.

Much of Elbow's back catalogue is infused with melancholy. Garvey dedicates 'The Night Will Always Win' to a friend in Manchester who recently passed away. The song, Garvey declares, is about missing someone who you'll never see again, and the crowd is fixed in silence until the song's end.

The opening bars of 'Grounds for Divorce', the first single from 'The Seldom Seen Kid', herald a high point of the set. After a good five minutes of thorough coaching we're ready for the song's rousing call-and-response which we sing with gusto. 'Grounds for Divorce' is a fine foray into bluesy rock, with crunching guitars and boozey lyrics.

'Weather to Fly', another crowd favourite is, Garvey tells us, the only song they've written about themselves, and the bandmates crowd around the piano to toast their 22-year history.

The show finishes with 'One Day Like This', a near perfect pop song that swells and soars into an unforgettable sing-along. The song that put Elbow firmly in the spotlight, with its strings and transcendental chorus, 'One Day Like This', is a hymn for the modern day.