Concert Review: Elbow @ Heineken Music Hall 14 Nov. 2011

Long time no blog! But yet, here I am, back with a post that I thought would need some more work and I really didn’t have the time or the energy to do so. Last week really had me knackered and so I decided this review could wait a little longer. The concert was a+mazing! Seriously, this is one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Unfortunately I didn’t take any picture or video myself as I was all the way in the back and my phone battery died on the spot. Yet, I couldn’t just leave this concert without blogging about it.


First of all I went to see the concert with my mom. She’s a bigger fan than me ever since I gave her a few songs by Elbow a while ago. I listened to their album The Seldom Seen Kid on repeat for months. Their latest, Build a Rocket Boys, is also a great album, but I knew fewer songs from that as I haven’t played it into oblivion. So, for one, I was very happy that their setlist was a mixture of both. The support act, Howling Bells, was also a great band to listen to. I already knew them a bit, as I posted one of their songs on here before. They are more rock than Elbow, but definitely worth a listen.

The Birds
The Bones of You
Neat Little Rows
Grounds for Divorce

The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver

The Night Will Always Win
Some Riot
Dear Friends
Weather to Fly
Open Arms
Lippy Kids
Station Approach
One Day Like This

Setlist retrieved from

Like I said, Elbow played a versatile setlist, mixing in the old and the new, so die hard fans would get their fix, but also the people who were seeing them for the first time could get a good idea of what they are all about. The show was made and held together by their front man, Guy Garvey, who was witty, continuously cracked jokes and has got crowd participation down to a T.

Now, what made this show amazing was the fact that somehow the band managed to play their songs BETTER than the album. I have often seen bands that are good and then they sound just like the CD. Sometimes I just feel that I would have been better off staying at home rather than paying for a ticket. Not with Elbow. With Elbow I was on the edge of my seat, with goosebumps running up and down my body from beginning to end. The arrangements of the songs were fuller, the beat was better, the keys were more touching, the guitar riffs were tighter and the vocals were raw and honest. The fact that they had a live string section/ back up singers also were a major plus.

Another major factor that made this concert fun, was the crowd participation. Sometimes I did think the continuous handwaving got a bit tiring, but it somehow worked and everyone participated which added in on the fun. The lead singer definitely got everyone to clap their hands and sing along, but a few times, he didn’t even need to tell anyone anything. Right before Weather to Fly he invited the audience to sing Happy Birthday to the band to celebrate their 20th anniversary. What he hadn’t expected was that the audience would spontaneously burst out into a Dutch birthday song not once, but three times in a row.

Highlights of the show were Neat Little Rows, Grounds for Divorce, Some Riot, the spontaneous outburst of Lang Zullen Ze Leven (Dutch birthday song) by the audience, Open Arms (again crowd participation was amazing) and of course their biggest hit Lippy Kids. Actually, all songs were highlights in their own right, but if I had to take a pick, I’d go for those. These songs all worked amazingly well in a live setting. Another plus was the amazing lighting. Since I was all the way in the back I also got to see how the light effects really added to the sound. All in all, the only conclusion I can draw is: it just worked.

Monday night proved that Elbow is definitely on to bigger and better things. My mom ended the night by saying: when they come back to Holland we have to go again. And I feel just like that. My only fear is that by that time Elbow will have graduated from playing medium sized concert halls to big arena shows. The songs will hold up, there’s no doubt about that, and the band will most definitely pull it off, but my only dread is that the less intimate setting might take away some of the enthusiasm of the crowd. It will therefore be interesting to see how the band will perform in bigger venues. However, with rave reviews about their current headlining tour and the festivals they played over summer, I don’t think there will be such a problem.

Q: Do you know Elbow? If so, what’s your favorite song? Mine are Some Riot and The Fix.

4 responses to “Concert Review: Elbow @ Heineken Music Hall 14 Nov. 2011”

  1. I love Elbow! A friend of mine gave me The Seldom Seen Kid as a birthday gift and I couldn’t stop listening to it. In 2009 I went to a Danish music festival called Roskilde and to my surprise they played there! It was such a big surprise and such a good concert!

    My next Elbow gig was this summer, at Lowlands. I think it easily fits in my top three of best gigs I’ve ever been to. SO AMAZING. The crowd, the music, the atmosphere, Guy Garvey (he’s awesome!). A few of my favourite songs are: The Birds, The Night Will Always Win, The Bones of You, Mexican Standoff, Leaders of the Free World and Newborn.

    • Thanks for the comment! And yes, they are amazing. I’m not much of a festival girl so I usually wait until bands give an actual performance in a venue. And indeed, Guy Garvey is one of the best lead singers out there right now.

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