Air and Elbow – Brixton Academy

It could only be more 'adult' if they had complimentary copies of The Telegraph in the foyer.

[R-Zone1]Hosting the biggest dinner party in town then, French duo Air return from the progdom of their last ‘proper’ album to the more comfort zone thrills of Talkie Walkie, which forms the spine of tonight’s set. Flanked by a live drummer, backing singers and a space station’s worth of musical gadgets Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin front it up, with guitars, resembling more a run of the mill indie band then world conquering electro-duo.

In the greatest tradition of indie bands, the vocals are pretty poor. Devoid of studio wizardry album opener ‘Venus’ sounds rather flaccid, although musically speaking combined with their army of technicians, Air are nothing short of meticulous. Recent hit ‘Cherry Blossom Boy‘ looses a little of its sheen, but retains enough of the beauty that’s made its beatific acoustic led melody Air’s most instant and perfect single in years.

The highlight is a splendid, though rather abridged version of ‘Playground Love’, sadly without vocals, and though the pace rarely changes or lifts throughout, the pure intrinsic quality of what Air do rules this insignificant. The raved up ‘Kelly Watch The Stars‘ provides some respite for itchy feet, and naturally a rousing ‘Sexy Boy‘ is still the centrepiece of the set. Other Stage closers for Glastonbury? Let’s hope so.

[L-Zone2]As far as Elbow are concerned, this is their Glastonbury. The place may not be fully sold out, but the mile-wide smile on singer Guy Garvey’s mug is more than enough to fill it. His charismatic northern charm turns Elbow’s murky mix of drug-eyed, emotional complexities into a rousing, and infectious live show. Strangely, they not only chose to not play new single ‘Not A Job’ but also debut a particularly awful new instrumental which sounds like The Datsuns playing Coldplay. Thankfully, ‘Fugitive Hotel’ the tearful standout from Cast Of Thousands takes on new climes, and although Elbow often indulge at the expense of our attention, there’s enough substance underneath the rest of it.

[R-Zone3]Opener ‘Ribcage’ is so captivating in its originality and impact (due in no small part to the on-stage Gospel Choir and backing screens) that Elbow’s immensely sharp and infinitely watchable musicianship is almost lost amid it. Still, for anyone still concerned that the boys don’t have the tunes to go with their inimitable rhythms and basslines, ‘Powder Blue’ and of course the wildly epic ‘New Born’ are as powerful presentations as one could ever need that beauty should be well crafted.

Click here to listen to Elbow’s new single ‘Not A Job’

Click here to watch the video

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