Grandaddy / Elbow Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - October 16, 2003

A few hundred souls braved the first big rains of fall to witness stellar sets from two of rock music's best young outfits. Manchester's Elbow has been building a buzz with its sophomore release, Cast of Thousands, one of the most warmly received Britrock recordings of the naughties. In keeping with that disc's grandiose feel, the quintet gave a stadium-sized showing, with front-man Guy Garvey's resonant vocals scything through the orchestral clamour produced by his band-mates. Elbow has thematic and melodic similarities to Coldplay, but where the latter's clearest influence is U2, the Mancunians' psych-tinged tunes bear the unmistakable imprint of Pink Floyd, a group to whom the youngsters do more than passable justice. With his brittle hooks and sweetly whispered verses, Grandaddy singer Jason Lytle comes off like a sad character, but where so many of his indie-rock contemporaries pine for the sunnier days of yore, the bearded bandleader looks into his crystal ball, making music that sounds like a fuzzy photocopy of the future. Perched behind a bank of keyboards and effects units, Lytle blessed the faithful with splendid renditions of "Yeah Is What We Had" and "Saddest Vacant Lot In All The World," two songs that manage the trick of being depressing and consolatory all at once. Of particular note were the visuals projected behind the band, variously depicting the group's minivan flipping over on a highway (during "AM 180") and a quartet of hippie lumberjacks building a log house (for "Lost On Yer Merry Way"). Called back to the stage for an encore, Lytle and his mates closed out with "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot," another winning take on the Pink Floyd sound. Somewhere, Syd Barrett is smiling.