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Elbow: Elbow, Co-op Live review- Guy Garvey makes the venue disaster a d...

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Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 10:19:21 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 10:19:21

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the vast black box next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. A few wrinkles remain. The queuing system outside was non-existent, leading to self-regulating orderly queues. I’m not sure Liam Gallagher fans will be so terribly British next month. Inside, not all the security barriers were working, there was no phone coverage and the venue’s coal-black walls were notably dingy. But it was full of friendly staff and the wifi was free and speedy. Everyone was greeted with a free drink or snack. Nice touch. Elbow, coop live


: Pete Swift

Phew. After three weeks of delays, cancellations and chaos, Manchester’s £365 million Co-op Live concert venue finally opened with a concert by local band Elbow. And it went, by and large, without a hitch. 

Amidst this, the venue’s general manager resigned. The reasons? Issues with the electricals, falling air conditioning units, hubristically optimistic claims readiness and some injudicious remarks small venues. Not since Pharaoh Khufu commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza has there been so much kerfuffle over a vast window-less structure. And there was no social media back in 2600BC.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the vast black box next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. A few wrinkles remain. The queuing system outside was non-existent, leading to self-regulating orderly queues. I’m not sure Liam Gallagher fans will be so terribly British next month. Inside, not all the security barriers were working, there was no phone coverage and the venue’s coal-black walls were notably dingy. But it was full of friendly staff and the wifi was free and speedy. Everyone was greeted with a free drink or snack. Nice touch.

: WireImage

That Elbow – by delay thus default – found themselves as Co-op Live’s opening act is apt. Their music represents a particular side of Manchester; not the swaggering Gallagher side (in Lippy Kids, Garvey sang that he’s “never perfected that simian stroll”) nor the riotous ravey Happy Mondays side, but rather the poetic, bruised optimism of the Rainy City.

Elbow’s songs were sonic approximations of what John Cooper Clarke calls Manchester’s “delicious shade of pearl grey”. As Garvey sang on Station Approach, “Coming home I feel like I designed these buildings I walk by.”

To be fair, I’m not sure Garvey would have designed Co-op Live, where a pint costs £7.95. It’s a bit shiny for him; the industrial Northern Quarter is more his vibe. But no matter. The sound in the arena was astonishing, its stage fantastically wide. 

The moment Elbow took to the stage here at the Co-op Live arena. "Let's open this venue properly," shouted Guy Garvey @CityLifeManc @MENnewsdesk pic.twitter.com/aV77zgmT0s

Another new track, Balu, had a meaty crunch. But it was the old favourites that got the crowd going. A giant mirrorball descended for Mirrorball, while Puncture Repair, leaning on friends, was a slight and delicate piano ballad – it made a nice counterpoint to the otherwise full sound created by the eleven musicians on stage. My Sad Captains, Magnificent (She Says) and One Day Like This had the home crowd in raptures. This is Elbow’s first arena tour for years. Big rooms suit them.

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