Elbow, Bombay Bicycle Club @ The Tivoli

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Mar 27 2012, 3h32

Sat 24 Mar – Elbow, Bombay Bicycle Club

The sold-out Tiv is buzzing as I arrive to the third gig of what’s already proven to be the most epic – and exhausting – weekend of the year so far.

Tonight’s support, Londoners Bombay Bicycle Club, start with a joyously harmonic (and appropriate come Sunday night) How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep. Judging by the crowd reaction, the UK music press darlings are on their way to becoming widely recognised in Australia – and rightly so, given their ability to switch from African-hued indie-pop to noisy post-punk while retaining a range of subtle hooks. The closing double of What You Want and Shuffle – aka two of A Different Kind Of Fix’s finest tracks – is a particular treat.

Returning in Australia merely eight months after their magnificent SITG 2011 performance, Elbow make it clear they’re playing to converts, with easily half the Tivoli crowd (“put your hands up!”) having seen the Mancunians at the venue back in 2008. The set-list is identical to the one from the previous night’s Melbourne show: seven tracks each from 2008’s fan-favourite Seldom Seen Kid and last year’s Build A Rocket Boys! and two from 2006’s Leaders Of The Free World – plenty of gold for an admirer.

Often possessing a dreamlike quality, the five-piece’s music is an all-enveloping live experience, Guy Garvey’s sonorous, velvety croon making you disconnect from the outside world. Just like at Splendour, The Birds kicks off nearly two hours of sonic bliss, with Mirrorball (aided by a spinning glitter ball) marking the set’s first truly majestic moment and the psych-tinged Neat Little Rows soaring high. Sing-along fave Grounds For Divorce and the gorgeously nostalgic Lippy Kids are just two of the subsequent standouts; bringing the down-to-earth element to the grandeur, the ever-affable Garvey supplies plenty of between-song banter in his thick Lancashire accent. Following the set closer Open Arms, the band return for the seamless encore of Starlings, Station Approach and an all-singing One Day Like This. Throw those curtains wide.

Rave magazine

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