Elbow / Melaton
HQ, Dublin, 2 Oct 2001
Is Neil Young the modern day Velvet Underground? Not musically, of course but in the sense that he seems to have influenced every end of millennium teenager to attack a guitar in anger. I can only assume that vast quantities of "Harvest" were inherited from parental record collections. Melaton, a young Dublin outfit more than doff their cap to Canada's finest export, finishing their set in storming fashion with a cover of "Southern Man". Phil Spector would be well pleased with their wall of frenetic strumming sound - two guitars are supplemented by mandolin, which creates a rich, deeper quality. They are very promising act; expect to hear more from them.
'Asleep at the Back' is a fantastic album and has marked Elbow as some of the finest tunesmiths around. A couple of songs into the set, I realise one of the reasons I love the album. There is a driving relentlessness to all of their songs which is a generated by strong cohesion of acoustic guitar and drums. It is almost as if the drums were mapped directly to the strum patterns, an effect that is far more immediate live. They glide gently through their debut long player, highlights of which include the beautiful "Newborn", "Red" and "Powder Blue".
Yet there is something about the set that doesn't quite hit the spot. Looking around, there is lots of appreciative head bobbing but (to coin some terrible psychobabble) there is nobody emoting. In the live context, the cost of being true to multi-layered feel of the album is a slightly sterile and rigid feel to the performance. I leave thinking that if Elbow were to deconstruct the songs to their bare bones, they would present a far more compelling live prospect. The tunes are certainly strong enough. However, this is a harsh observation given the songs are maudlin in nature to begin with. Cartwheels down the aisles would hardly be expected.
Overall, wonderful songs flawlessly delivered make for an entrancing if not quite intoxicating evening.
Check out the CLUAS review of Elbow's debut album 'Asleep in the Back'