red lights

Elbow and South on the Rise

Elbow / South
Double Door
Chicago, IL
March 2, 2002

Review by Scott Stegenga
Photos by Barry Brecheisen

When you first listen to Elbow's debut CD Asleep in the Back, you hear a very serious, deep and introspective sound with lyrics straight from the heart of vocalist/songwriter Guy Garvey. When they played Chicago's Double Door, the audience was given a treat; they got the great songs, but none of the deep attitude you may expect from such a profound sounding band. Let it be known that Elbow like America and want to make lots of friends and with Guy's friendly attitude, they surely got what they wanted.
South The first surprise of the evening for some was Elbow, touring with groovy rock trio South. Surely most musical Anglophiles like myself (yes, I read the Rant or Rave section) know they were one of the nominees of last year's coveted Mercury Music Prize and had been all the buzz on the UK press year-end best lists. This tour is a co-headlining tour and in true co-worker fashion, some cities have South as the headliner and for others, it goes back to Elbow. The snowy and cold evening was adorned with a nice wave of warmth with Elbows' opening performance. The introspective variety swayed from the whispery mellow chant of "Any Day Now," to the mid tempo "Powder Blue," then building up to the climactic wall of sound of "Newborn." Amidst all this great performing were the personal chats initiated by Garvey as if he were playing in a local pub. Whether it was the fun banter between him and lead guitarist Mark Potter or asking the audience if the song "Chicago" was like a local anthem, the band easily befriended the evening's fans.
After Elbow's remarkable set came co-headliners South. Its tough to describe what Souths' sound is like and the advantage can be good or bad for the virgin ear. The audience was more prepared for Elbow since they've been in the headlines more than South in recent months, but the fortunate people who stayed were bestowed with a nice dose of multi-instrumental techno-influenced rock jams. Their debut CD From Here On In is in the same vein as The Doves where you have a group of DJ/Techno friends who have lots of instrumental talents then decide to form a band. The set opened with the instrumental groove of "Broken Head," morphing into the shoegazer styles of "Paint the Silence" and at times slowing down for the folk stylings of "I Know What You're Like." During their set, the onstage activities were memorable as members Joel Cadbury, Jamie McDonald, and Brett Shaw switched positions from guitar to drums to bass and all sharing vocal duties. As their set came to a close, their impression were deeply saturated in the heads of the audience. South is certainly a band to watch in the future and this set gave us a inkling of good things to come.
Both bands not only shared headlines, but multimedia as well. Adorning the back of the stage was a movie screen presenting images/video of music video screen shots, random cityscape artwork, shadows of words form their lyrics and live video of the band performing. The night may have been snowy and cold, but the melodies from two of the UK's latest hopeful newcomers laid their warmth and talent all around.

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