Close this search box.

Review: Elbow at Co-Op Live ‘Manchester’s own deliver opening night magic’

After all the noise, the delays, it was only fitting that a Manchester band opened up this state of the art new arena
Elbow Co-Op Live

After a tumultuous journey filled with delays, cancellations, and a series of unfortunate events, the curtains finally rose at the Co-Op Live, marking the beginning of a new era in Manchester’s entertainment landscape.

And who better to inaugurate this monumental occasion than the Bury hometown heroes themselves, Elbow?

There were plenty of nerves about in the queues waiting to get in, even up to the support band coming on, (and I’m sure with the Co-Op team too) but there were absolutely none on stage as Elbow strode on stage with all the confidence of a band who have been serving up the goods for years.

Elbow at Co-Op Live

“Let’s open this venue properly, shall we?” Guy Garvey shouts from the front.

Europe’s biggest indoor arena was finally making the right kind of noises.

The band kicked off their set with the brooding introspection of “Things I’ve Been Telling Myself for Years,” setting the tone for an evening, followed up with another off their amazing new record, “Lover’s Leap.”

How does the Co-Op Arena sound?

A shout-out for the crystal clear sound of the arena – it’s seriously impressive. The arena’s state-of-the-art sound system worked wonders, effortlessly filling the vast expanse of the venue. The strings cut through the grungy rock of the guitars and it’s clear as a bell.

Guy Garvey

Guy Garvey is a remarkable frontman, connecting with the audience, cajoling the band and keeping the crowd involved. No mean feat with 20,000 people hanging off your every word.

‘Entertaining the whole crowd is like making love to a beautiful woman,’ he says as he leads the crowd in some acapella backing vocals. Briefly becoming Swiss Tony from the fast show, leaving the audience in stitches.

He has us singing, waving, dancing – marionettes dancing to his string pulling.

He’s just turned 50 and shows no signs of letting up, and the tunes of the new record, Audio Vertigo channel that energy, surging and exciting with many twists and turns.

And as always, his lyrics are sharp as a razor – “Of course I’ll live to 96 and fix the welfare state,” he sang on the opening number, “Things I’ve Been Telling Myself for Years.”

New material aside, it was the timeless classics that got the crowd out of their seats and grooving.

Elbow CoOp Live
The fabulous Mirrorball Photo credit: @manc_wanderer

As a giant disco ball descended from the rafters for “Mirrorball,” there was a collective gasp of awe followed by a wave of euphoria as the familiar melody washed over the crowd.

And when the delicate strains of “Puncture Repair” filled the arena, it was as if time stood still, a powerful moment in a set jam-packed with powerful moments.

The moments just didn’t stop coming – it was one hell of a set list.

As Garvey shared stories and anecdotes between songs, the crowd hung on his every word, united in their love for the music and the shared experience of being part of something truly special.

He gave a shout out to their Blue Print Studios, where they recorded their debut album, Asleep in the Back – and other references to our city filter into their music, from The Temple bar in Grounds for Divorce, from our naff weather in On Day Like This.

It’s the trio of “My Sad Captains,” “Magnificent (She Says),” and “One Day Like This” that truly brought the house down.

With Garvey’s voice soaring effortlessly over the swelling orchestration, it was impossible not to be swept away by the sheer magnitude of the moment.

This was Elbow at their best, commanding the stage with a confidence and poise that only comes from years of honing their craft.

Elbow at CoOp Live
A truly special performance Photo credit: @manc_wanderer

As the final notes of “One Day Like This” faded into the night, there was a sense of euphoria lingering in the air, the crowd feeling like they had witnessed something special.

Elbow was originally down to be the 15th band that would perform at the Co-Op Live. But after seeing that gig, you wonder why they weren’t the first name on the teamsheet.

This may have been Elbow’s first arena tour in years, but if tonight was any indication, big rooms suit them just fine.

A barnstorming performance – let’s hope it is a sign of things to come for this freshly minted venue.

Elbow setlist at the Co-Op Live Arena

Things I’ve Been Telling Myself for Years
Lover’s Leap
The Bones of You
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
The Picture
Dexter & Sinister
The Birds
Puncture Repair
Good Blood Mexico City
Station Approach
My Sad Captains
Magnificent (She Says)
Grounds for Divorce


Lippy Kids
One Day Like This

You can check out what’s on at Co-Op Live by clicking here

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.