Guy Garvey has fond memories of San Diego. The singer of the Manchester, England-bred dream pop band Elbow found a taste of home here.
“I remember having a day off there when the rest of the band went over the border to Mexico,” Garvey says. “I hung out on my own and found a bar that serves Guinness. It was so nice. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.”
The Mercury Prize-winning Elbow plays House of Blues Saturday, January 18. The set will be a retrospective of the band’s career, with a chunk of songs from its eighth album, “Giants of All Sizes.”
“There are a few songs we’d be remiss not to play, but we’re doing half of the album from the latest record in the set,” he says. “Everything else is from down the years. It’s quite a long set. It’s really exciting. I doubt anyone will be disappointed, if that’s not too presumptuous.”
“Giants of All Sizes” was recorded at Hamburg’s Clouds Hill Studio, The Dairy in Brixton, 604 Studios in Vancouver and Blueprint Studios in Salford, with additional recording at the band members’ studios in Manchester. Garvey calls it “an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band and new life.”
“This is our ‘German’ album,” he says with a laugh. “All the big numbers came from those sessions. We had a traumatic, sad time—from what’s happening in the Western world to Trump to our own little version of Trump (Boris Johnson) who’s in office right now.
“Brexit has been appalling. It’s really divided the country. Each side is thinking the other side is bad. It’s an awful thing.”
The band also mourned the deaths of close friend Scott Alexander, who owned Manchester clubs Big Hands and Temple Bar; Garvey’s dad, Don, who succumbed to lung cancer; and friend Jan Oldenburg, owner of the Night and Day Café, where Elbow arrived at its first record deal. The three died within eight days of each other. The Manchester bombings and the Grenfell Tower fire are also covered on here.
“There’s some thinly veiled anger on here,” he says. “It sounds weird to say, but it was made with a heavy heart, but I’m still grateful we made it. It was a cathartic experience to write it.”
Alexander, he says, had two teenage children.
“It was terrible,” Garvey says. “He was one of the real pillars of the community. I carried two coffins and gave two eulogies in eight days.
“It is a record that, lyrically, takes in moments of deep, personal loss, whilst reflecting the times by confronting head-on the specters of injustice and division not just in the U.K., but across the world. It is a record that could only have been made in the 21st century.”
Garvey also made a documentary about his father, another project that taught him the value of life.
“We still have other ones who are great,” says Garvey, who recently became the father to a son. “The closing song on the record, ‘Weightless,’ is about my dad.
“My son, though, is the most musical, clever child I know. He’s great. He’s my best mate.”
7 p.m. Saturday, January 18
House of Blues, 1055
Fifth Avenue, Downtown
Tickets start at $35