Elbow, Co-op Live review: Guy Garvey makes the venue disaster a distant memory


Wow! It's such a relief that the Co-op Live concert venue in Manchester has finally opened after being postponed, cancelled and experiencing a lot of confusion for three weeks. The opening concert was performed by Elbow, a well-known local band, and thankfully, everything went smoothly without any major issues.

Guy Garvey announced from the stage, "We should have a grand opening, don't you think?" The indoor arena, which is the largest in Europe and was designed with the help of Harry Styles, was finally getting the recognition it deserved.

The opening of the venue has been a complete disaster. Initially, it was supposed to open in April showcasing stand-up comedy by Peter Kay. However, due to unforeseeable circumstances, the event was postponed along with performances by Keane and up-and-coming artist Olivia Rodrigo. In addition, Take That and rapper A Boogie Wit da Hoodie decided to relocate their concerts to the AO Arena in direct competition with the new venue.

Meanwhile, the general manager of the location stepped down. The cause? Problems with the electricity, air conditioning units that were falling, overly confident statements about preparation, and some unwise comments regarding smaller venues. There hasn't been this much commotion about a huge, enclosed building without windows since the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza by Pharaoh Khufu, all the way back in 2600 BC when social media did not exist.

I was a bit nervous when I came up to the big dark structure next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. There were a few minor issues that still needed addressing. The lines outside weren’t organized, but people were cooperating and forming neat queues on their own. Although, I’m not sure if fans of Liam Gallagher will be as polite when they show up next month. On the inside, not all of the security gates were functioning properly, there was no phone service and the walls were quite grubby. However, the personnel were welcoming and the internet access was both complimentary and quick. Additionally, every guest received a free beverage or snack upon their arrival- which was a lovely gesture.

It's fitting that Elbow ended up being the first performers at Co-op Live due to a delay. Their musical style embodies a specific aspect of Manchester. It's not the confident and bold Gallagher style (as Garvey admits in Lippy Kids that he's never been able to perfect that particular walk), and it's also not the wild and energetic Happy Mondays style either. Rather, Elbow's music captures the poetic and hopeful spirit of Manchester that is often accompanied by a sense of sadness.

Elbow's music represented the sound of what John Cooper Clarke refers to as Manchester's beautiful shade of pearl grey. As sung by Garvey in Station Approach, "Returning home, it feels as though I was the architect of the buildings I stroll past."

Honestly, I can't say for certain that Garvey would have envisioned Co-op Live as it is now, what with the cost of a single pint running up to £7.95. The overall appearance of the establishment seems somewhat out of place for his taste, as he seemed to prefer the gritty and urban atmosphere of the Northern Quarter. Nevertheless, this is of little importance. What really caught my attention was the astonishing quality of sound and the impressively wide stage present in the arena.

Garvey has just celebrated his 50th birthday and instead of slowing down, he has become more assertive. Elbow's latest album, Audio Vertigo, is filled with raw and powerful rhythms. In the first track, "Things I've Been Telling Myself for Years," he boldly proclaims that he'll live until he's 96 and improve the state of welfare.

Elbow's latest addition, Balu, had a rich and substantial beat. However, it was the classic melodies that energized the audience. A huge reflective sphere dropped down for Mirrorball, while Puncture Repair, which highlights the importance of relying on friends, was a delicate and graceful piano ballad. It provided a nice contrast to the powerful music being produced by the eleven musicians on stage. Whenever My Sad Captains, Magnificent (She Says), and One Day Like This were performed, the local crowd went wild with excitement. This is Elbow's inaugural arena tour in years, and the large venues are a perfect match for their music style.

Before the concert, I met Tim Leiweke, the important person in charge of the arena. He works for Oak View Group, which co-owns the venue. I asked him how he felt and he said he was "thankful."

Co-op Live can finally breathe a sigh of relief following one of the most catastrophic live music openings in history as the day they've been waiting for has finally arrived.

Tickets for elbow's concert can be purchased at elbow.co.uk until August 4th.

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