Live Review: Elbow, Air Traffic - Avalon - Los Angeles, CA
Mon, 12 May 2008 16:38:25
In their very first tour of the United States, UK natives, Air Traffic impressed everyone with their piano driven rock tunes, youthful enthusiasm and boyish good looks. If you haven’t heard Air Traffic yet, don’t fret, odds are that in the near future you’ll be seeing and hearing much more of them. Their music is pleasant, and uncannily contagious. As they opened the show for Elbow they plowed through their set with more energy than most bands could ever fathom having. Singer/pianist, Chris Wall, wailed away at his piano intensely, whiled seated upon its case rather than a traditional stool. They weren’t afraid to move around on stage, as was made obvious by bass player Jim Maddock, who plucked away at his strings with an insane amount of vigor and speed, all the while moving and dancing around to the music.
They played many a song off of their current release Fractured Life, which features up-tempo songs that dare you not to like them. "Charlotte" [watch video] was one of the songs that they played toward the end of their set, and although it was close to the finish line for them they kept plugging away with the same amount of power as they had in their first song, generating an excellent response from the Hollywood crowd, who even offered up clapping and cheering in between songs (a feat for any opening band to accomplish in L.A.). If these young men from England could win over Hollywood’s heart in a mere thirty minutes, just imagine the progress they'll make as they continue their tour of the United States.
As the UK's indie/alt veterans, Elbow, took the stage the house was packed, and there was a noticeable amount of anticipation in the air to see what this band was going to offer us during their set (which ended up running well over an hour). Hailing from Manchester, England, they are native sons of the same city that brought us the pond-crossing success stories The Verve and Oasis). The current tour is in support of the ironically titled, The Seldom Seen Kid, just released this April. Though this band has been making music together for approximately a decade, they haven’t necessarily been incredibly prolific (with only three other studio albums under their belt), and perhaps because of this fact, U.S. audiences have never quite given them the recognition that they really do deserve.
They opened their set with the lively opening track off of The Seldom Seen Kid, "Starlings," which features not one, not two, but three of the band members playing the trumpet simultaneously, which made a surprising sound and spectacle for an indie band, but nonetheless—and perhaps its inherent quirk—made the audience go wild. Young bands can learn a lot from the dynamic that Elbow offers their viewers. Vocalist Guy Garvey brings something to the stage that most frontmen leave behind in the practice room. That something is finesse. He eased through every song, making the performance look and sound effortless in its execution. His movements on stage were as fluid as his vocals, yet very focused, especially during their power-balladesque song "The Bones of You," which some may comment exudes Morrissey-like qualities. When the song "Grounds for Divorce" [watch video] was played, the band got the crowd up on the feet with hand clapping galore. At that moment, it was clear that Elbow, although they have somewhat been the absent fathers of Britpop, were back with a vengeance and nobody can stop them. Now hopefully we will be seeing them get the credit that they have been owed all along.