Live Show Review: Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22

Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22, photo by Tom Murphy

A late spring blizzard swept into the Colorado front range the day of the Elder Island show at the Bluebird Theater with a promise of several inches of snow but by evening it had become slush and other than snow on lawns the precipitation had melted into a steady stream in municipal gutters. The net effect was to give the night a feeling like you were huddled into dusky night club where a cool, local, hip downtempo band was playing a homecoming show. Except that this was Elder Island from Bristol, UK and not someone from the Mile High City. Nevertheless the trio put on a show that came off spontaneous and low key as well as theatrical with simple elements used to great effect with the lighting and a band looking like it was playing deep in some secret warehouse space trying not to attract outside attention with bright lights, rather that this was a show between friends and the banter from stage and the sly, self-effacing, friendly sense of humor was impossible not to like.

Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22, photo by Tom Murphy

Maybe it was the awareness of the weather potentially taking a turn for the worse or by design but the Elder Island set felt short. Right around an hour or less. And during the course of the set the group performed selections from the breadth of its career including “The Big Unknown” from the 2014 self-titled EP, “Black Fur”from the 2016 Seeds in Sand EP, the 2017 single “Welcome State” and closing the set with “Purely Educational” from the most recent album Swimming Static (2021). For a selection of songs across that timeframe of the band’s development it all, whether updated with new gear or arrangements, had that lush R&B, downtempo pop jazz aesthetic Elder Island has rendered into a coherent and compelling whole. Rich low end bass, electronic atmospherics and an ear for that style of production while coming together as music that feels very analog and homespun. Maybe it was the obvious humanity of the members of the band that embraced their own quirks and taking the craft but not themselves seriously and that level of spontaneity and openness of spirit made the show very inviting until the end which felt like came along far too soon.

Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22, photo by Tom Murphy
Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22, photo by Tom Murphy
Elder Island at Bluebird Theater 5/20/22, photo by Tom Murphy