Inspired Elbow captivate fans


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Guy Garvey's trademark husky vocals would resonate with me long after I left the Elbow concert, which was held in KITEC in Kowloon Bay. "So throw those curtains wide! One day like this a year would see me right..."

What a day it was.

This experience must have been shared by many of the other concertgoers who showed their excitement (and I daresay, impatience) for Elbow to finally appear on stage.

They quickly dismissed two supporting acts, Hong Kong-based 9Maps and Emmy the Great, loudly chanting "Where's Elbow?" Perhaps it was a little too hasty, however. Both bands had brilliant songwriting and showed strong creative drive by incorporating such instruments as the glockenspiel and wind chimes.

Although Elbow are renowned for their live shows, I had my doubts as I stood waiting for them. Could they engage such a diverse audience? Would they lose their raw sound when playing at such an unconventional venue? Thankfully, not only were my doubts dismissed almost immediately as the band opened with The Birds, but I felt myself being transported to a new dimension by the euphonious live arrangement of the music.

The Birds also demonstrated the band's bold ambition to include varying musical dynamics usually found only in classical music. The progressive nature of the song was, little by little, slowly absorbed by the audience, until it reached its explosive chorus, at which point the enraptured fans surrendered themselves totally to the music.

Another defining feature of Elbow's live arrangement was the strong presence of a strings section, which demonstrated their importance in songs such as The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver. These elements are one of the key ingredients that separate Elbow's live performances from the mediocrity of many other modern pop concerts.

The band's choice of songs was well-suited for their first concert in Hong Kong. While they mainly played songs from their two most recent albums, Build a Rocket Boys! and the Mercury Prize winner The Seldom Seen Kid, they also showcased a few from their early days when they were still known as Soft.

Elbow managed to display their wide repertoire of songs by contrasting grand arena anthems (Grounds for Divorce, The Bones of You) with soft, sentimental ballads (Lippy Kids, The River).

Lead vocalist Garvey managed to keep the audience enthralled, greeting fans in Cantonese, sharing some witty stories, and engaging the crowd in numerous call-and-response segments.

His charismatic performance kept the audience captivated throughout the night.

But, of course, the atmosphere of the medium-sized Rotunda Two of KITEC, the intimate venue of the concert, would not have been complete without the lighting design: the disco ball set to the romantic vibe of Mirrorball, and strobe lights that danced to the rhythmic beats of Grounds for Divorce were absolutely stunning.

The only downside was the acoustics in the dome-shaped venue; the band's rich tone sounded scattered and unfocused at times.

However, such a complaint faded from my mind as the band closed with One Day Like This, arguably the most blissful song ever created.