SO.CO Team

2 weeks ago

Live: Elbow @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh - 8th September 2021

Elbow took their belated Giants Of All Sizes tour to the stunning surrounds of Usher Hall in Edinburgh. We sent Thomas Jackson along to see how it all went down.

Elbow perform onstage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 8th September 2021

“Sorry we’re late” mutters Guy Garvey, leading Elbow onstage into the magnificent confines of Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. Whether he’s referring to the ten minutes after their publicised stage time, or the 11 months since they were due to play this show, is left hanging. It doesn’t matter. They’re here now, and in the two hours that follow Garvey leads the band, and their audience, on a cathartic, life-affirming, and celebratory journey through the their spectacular back-catalogue. 

Elbow perform onstage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 8th September 2021

One benefit of heading out on an album promo tour almost two years after said album was released is that it’s given the fans a chance to get to know the record. Giants Of All Sizes is arguably Elbow’s most challenging collection to date, with a veer into the electronic, as well as the big singalong moments they’re known for, so the audience familiarity with the ‘new’ material on offer elevates the set to what feels like a greatest hits show. 

Elbow perform onstage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 8th September 2021

Opening with a beefed-up Dexter & Sinister, featuring Garvey on guitar, the band aren’t messing around tonight. The bass-driven refrain echoes around Usher Hall, as the vocal is delivered with a snarling cynicism. When he informs us “I haven’t finished yet” we believe him. This isn’t a band that is going to fade out quietly onto the nostalgia circuit. 

Elbow perform onstage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 8th September 2021

Elbow have always been an outfit who have connected with their fans on a personal level. Their accessibility on social media is well documented, and it’s touching, if unsurprising, when Garvey dedicates Magnificent (She Says) to a young woman in the audience, and her recently departed father. There may well have been something in my eye at this point. 

Elbow perform onstage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 8th September 2021

Fans of the band will recognise the familiar triptych to close out the show. The urgency of Grounds For Divorce, the standout single from their breakout album (2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid), before an encore featuring a sublime take on Lippy Kids, and obviously the band’s signature track, One Day Like This. There’d be a riot if they didn’t play it, and the band are, as ever, accompanied by an orchestra a couple of thousand strong. 

For most in the venue tonight, it will have been their first live show in almost two years. There’s no way the band were going to let them leave disappointed. Judging by the sound of several hundred voices continuing the refrain as we left the venue and wandered off into the Edinburgh evening, it’s safe to say that it was a job well done. 

Words and Pictures: Thomas Jackson