by / March 3rd, 2017 /

Elbow – The Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Elbow are a band with a hefty history behind them, and twenty-five years together means that they are professionals when it comes to touring. Playing in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, a venue that’s been in use since 1879, is a suitable showcase for a band that has immense prestige and isn’t afraid to admit their age.

Attracting a mix of different ages, the crowd eagerly file in from the moment doors open, a welcome alternative to Dublin crowds that turn up at the last moment in order to cultivate a sense of being cool.

As the night kicks off, proceedings begin with Scottish performer C Duncan, accompanied by his band that rely on synth-infused dreamy beats to warm up the crowd. Unfortunately, Duncan’s soothing melodies are seemingly lost on a few members of the crowd, who turn to chatter as they await the main event. It’s a pity, as Duncan is a talented musician, but he has yet to master the art of chatting with a new audience to create a genuine connection.

When Elbow come on stage, they’re welcomed with loud cheers and a crowd ready to dance. Opening with ‘Gentle Storm,’ from latest album Little Fictions, Guy Garvey expertly plays on the crowd’s heightened sense of excitement.

The show as a whole has been put together flawlessly – from the band’s interactions, to the lighting, to the flow of the set list. The odd, dynamic mixture of the audience is the one element that the band cannot control, however, and at points it puts a strain on the performance as a whole.

At times the cohesive nature of band/crowd interaction is thrown into difficulty; evident when the relationship becomes about dissatisfaction that the band are drinking Guinness on stage while Murphy’s Stout is being served in the Olympia bar.

Luckily, Elbow’s career has led to several standout songs, which are flawlessly performed and intermingled, between newer releases. Sing-along numbers such as ‘Grounds for Divorce,’ ‘Magnificant (She Says,)’ and ‘One Day Like This’ guarantee that the audience remain happy on the whole.

With a career that began in 1990, Elbow have clearly become old hands at touring, and Garvey jokes about the tradition of audiences demanding an encore. It deflates the fun of a chorus of “one more tune” when the band walk off for approximately thirty seconds before coming back on, and even though the audience is brought into the joke; it feels odd that the encore is so transparently contrived. Nevertheless, it’s the closing act in a performance that never once falters, proving why Elbow have successfully been in the business for a quarter of a century.

Elbow photographed for State by Leah Carroll