'Magical And Moving' - Elbow And The Halle Orchestra Triumph At Manchester International Festival
A production four years in the making, Elbow strode last Wednesday onto the Bridgewater Hall stage as bedraggled, nervous Bury blokes, but left all-conquering kings of Manchester International Festival.
Aided by the Halle Orchestra (another Manchester-born institution) and Salford-bred conductor Joe Duddell, main man Guy Garvey was on miraculous form, delivering a note-perfect performance confirming him as one of the most gifted vocalists this country possesses.
‘Station Approach’ opens, a Manc-anthem about returning home to your mum, followed by ‘Mirrorball’, a sumptuous ballad propelled by Halle’s youth choir and greeted by showers of affection by an astonished hall.
Highlights come thick and fast: ‘Grounds for Divorce’ is fired with Bad Seeds-esque rock gristle, ‘Some Riot’ is a touching, teary-eyed tribute to late muse Bryan Glancy, and ‘Weather To Fly’ asks: “Are we having the time of our lives?/Are we coming across fine?” The Bridgewater’s fervent end of set reaction said it all.
Elbow’s second half didn’t disappoint. The choir-augmented ‘Grace Under Pressure’ segued into the string-laden ‘Starlings’, while ‘Scattered Black and Whites’ and ‘Newborn’ nod to their early genius.
As scripted, ‘One Day Like This’ brought the house down, Garvey leading a sea of joyous, waving arms, resulting in a 10 minute standing ovation. Well deserved, too. This was a magical, moving performance.