Friday, November 04, 2005

Fugitive Motel

Elbow @ Hiro Ballroom 11/3/05
Actually the Maritime Hotel (which houses the Hiro Ballroom) is far from a "fugitive motel", but rather a hip, trendy and consequently very pricey ($400 a night) hotel. Regardless, I must say that I absolutely love this venue. It's like the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill, where the final scene (the massacre) was filmed. There was Japanese lettering all around and even a dragon that puffed smoke (insert your own joke here) above the tiny stage. The place can't hold more than 400 people and the sound was absolutely perfect, though they were working with a tiny PA (more on the technical problems below).

By the time that we got there (after eating at a terrific Cuban place nearby), it was 8:30 and we missed Mazarin, the up-and-coming openers, who I'd wanted to see. It took almost another hour for Elbow to hit the stage, but once they did, they were mesmerizing and the long wait was all but forgotten. It's a bit surreal to see a band as intense as they are whose lead singer sits on a stool during performances and uses his cane as a prop during songs. Furthermore, with a dreadlocked bass player and a guitar player who resembled a mid '60s Mod (however, I could barely see the drummer because of the small stage, they're definitely a visually striking band as well and Guy Garvey's stage presence as well as his persona is terrific as well.

They played a variety of songs from their 3 albums and concentrated mainly on their new one, Leaders of the Free World, featuring such standouts as the single "Forget Myself", "Mexican Standoff" and the title track, which Guy introduced by saying that he was happy to be in a city where everyone thought like him in regards to global politics. Indeed! If I had one complaint, it's that they didn't play enough songs from Cast of Thousands, my favorite album of theirs. Nevertheless, it was great to hear "Fugitive Motel", "Grace Under Pressure" and "Fallen Angel" from that terrific album as well as "Newborn" from their debut Asleep in the Back. However, it took 2 attempts for them to play "Newborn" since guitarist Mark Potter's amp died and they brought another one and it still didn't work, so they took a break (though they claimed that they don't do encores since it's "a silly French invention") and came back out for 2 more songs, finally getting "Newborn" right and then eventually finishing with "Grace Under Pressure".

Overall, it was great and the personal nature of the show (and intimate size of the venue) made it that much more special. I really hope that they have more shows at this venue. My only complaint about it is that $7 bottled beer is a no-no (though at least it's Japanese beer, so it was appropriate) and I'm not crazy about bathroom attendants, either. I can get the towels myself. Thank you. These are minor complaints, though.

Here's a review and setlist from The Modern Age.

Here's another review from Sound Bites.

The above picture is from Coolfer. You can see more of his photos here.


Anonymous Mark said...

Hi Matt,

Nice review! It was a great show, even with some of the technical problems. One correction, though: I'm pretty sure that for the first song of the encore, they played "Powder Blue" and not another attempt at "Newborn". Also, I heard that Mazarin actually did not show up for the gig.


9:51 PM

Anonymous bill p said...

Mazarin didn't play.

10:57 AM

Blogger c said...

no mazarin for sure. and i totally agree on this: i'm not crazy about bathroom attendants either....

12:23 PM


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