Alex Zielski 14/06/2008

“We greatly appreciate you pumping money back into the forest which surrounds you tonight ladies and gentleman” comes the greeting from the self proclaimed, “warm-up” act for the night's proceedings. The representative from the English Forestry Commission he's clearly passionate about his occupation, but clearly not so much so that he has learnt the pre-planned script, constantly checking down at his prepared notes.
It's a given that the majority of the audience concentrated in the opening of Delamere Forest in rural Cheshire, are unlikely to have purchased their tickets with the well being of the protected forestry at the forefront of their minds.
This sentiment is clearly backed by John Bramwell as he swaggers onto the stage to formally open the evening's events: “Thanks for the great introduction” he announces sarcastically, with the rest of 'I Am Kloot' in close pursuit. “We'd like to thank Elbow for having us along tonight, in these beautiful surroundings” he continues, which receives the traditional outcry from the expectant audience at the first mention of the headliners.

The Manchester four piece open their set as they mean to go on, focusing on new material from their latest offering 'I Am Kloot Play Moolah Rouge', which again has been overlooked by the majority of British music critics.

The general laid back approach of the band seems to be well appreciated by those gathered at the front. Enthusiastic nodding heads encourage the sun to appear through the tree line, and in doing so adds the increasingly atmospheric location.

Highlights from the half hour set include 'One Man Brawl' and 'Hey Little Bird', a melodic number which seems fitting to the location.

As the sun slowly descends a small glimmer of light is still visible through the picturesque tree line- queue the entrance of the night's headliners. Garvey and co follows the entrance of the two glamorous female violinists, who are situated towards the rear of the stage, well positioned for those nearer the front to appreciate.

As Garvey wonders on, you start to appreciate the magnitude of the man's presence. At around 6'4 in height, his appearance seems to contradict the his vocal style, continually reaching high notes with ease, to really compound the harmonious sounds of Elbow.

Latest album 'This Seldom Kid' features heavily in the opening numbers, with the first track 'Starlings' beginning the set. The sudden shrill of trumpets, which really make the listener sit up and take note on their CD player, sound even more compelling live.

The audience who have decided to move towards the front rather then observing from further a field with their home made picnics, begin to arouse after a stirring rendition of recent single 'Grounds For Divorce', with Garvey adopting the stance seen on the band's video. But here, instead of the pint glass being slammed down a cow bell is used to smash the crowd into life.

This sets the night into steed as the five piece revert back to 'Leaders Of The Free World's', the self titled number really reverberating around the darkening forest. 'Forget Myself' also pumps up the volume that little bit more, but the tone is lowered to a more relaxed pace with Garvey, accompanied by acoustic guitar, delivering the only song from the first album.

'Newborn' really is a classic example of a beautifully melodic song so simply delivered that not many bands around could dream of producing it. The gradual build up of Garvey's vocals, accompanied by the simplistic riff, to the all out amalgamation of violins, drums and bass, show Elbow at their magnificent best.

Another highlight for tonight's gathering was the introduction of former Pulp maestro Richard Hawley. Having just embarked on his own solo adventure, Hawley combines vocals with Garvey for this creepy creation, which really wouldn't be unfitting in any psycho thriller.

Whilst the rest of the band remain quiet throughout, Garvey lives up to his reputation his dry sense of humour, playing with the crowd as he announces: “This is our last song I'm afraid…actually, we all know that isn't true”, he continues. “Why must we go through this every time? You will all shout and cheer loud enough and we will be back out in a minute” he quips.

The man is true to his word and the night is drawn to a close wen Elbow are joined on stage by 'I Am Kloot', Richard Hawley, and anyone else who had the pleasure of AAA passes. They all collaborate to perform a unique rendition of 'Grace Under Pressure', sending the crowd into raptures. If there's one band who could rise to the occasion, performing in, and matching the surroundings of these ever increasing forest tours, then one would have to look no further than tonight's sublime act. Elbow.