52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

passing the gun from father to feckless son

Elbow @ Nottingham Rock City, 15th February 2006

As I've already described elsewhere this week, I have a ludicrously short-attention span at gigs. I am really, really easy to distract. Sometimes it's the guy chatting to his mates just behind me; sometimes it's the people checking their phones every 2 minutes to see if they have a new text, or waving it at the stage trying to record/video/photograph the band; sometimes it's the person standing just a little too close to me; sometimes it's the tall guy who keeps moving so he is standing directly in front of me.... sometimes this tall person is Lord B.... Even my memories of some of the best concerts I have ever attended are softened around the edges by something peripheral that managed to draw my attention away from the band. You want to know the reason why I seem to be so stingy with my marks out of ten at gigs? More often than not it's the distraction factor.

For three songs, Elbow were brilliant. They came onto the stage, looked genuinely pleased to be there, and launched into 'Station Approach', 'Fallen Angel' and 'Red'. They're a great band. They remind me a little of a non-stadium friendly Coldplay - with a better and more inventive lyricist. They're very downbeat and slightly melancholy, but they have a wonderful knack with a tune, and given the right moment, can be wonderfully uplifting. They deserve to be massive, but I would be very surprised if that ever really happens. Rock City was quite a long way from being sold out tonight. Lord B has been carping a little all day about not being in the mood for seeing a miserable indie band, and I think partly because of that moaning, I've been really looking forward to seeing them play all day, and I was delighted to be so captivated by their opening gambit. Then they played a quieter one, and the crowd started to chat, to head to the bar, to make a move to the toilet.... and the moment was gone. It wasn't really recaptured for me until right at the end of the set when we got to hear songs like 'Newborn', 'Powder Blue', 'Puncture Repair' and 'Forget Myself'.

There are lots of different ways of working your way though a crowd. My own preferred technique is to lay a gentle hand on someone's shoulder to let them know I'm there, make eye-contact with them as they turn, and then sidle past. The favoured technique at Rock City this evening was the shove, sometime accompanied by the poke. I know that some movement at a gig is inevitable, but do we really have to be so rude about it? I also think it's pretty rude to stop on your way through the crowd, turn back to the mate who is following you and to start chatting to him - all in the middle of a song.


Interruptions in the quieter songs aside, I thought Elbow were really good tonight. Guy Garvey has a nice easy way with a crowd, managing to engage us in a little bit of banter, including a small monologue about how brocolli is a man-made vegetable, whereas chips come from potatoes, which come from the ground. He also quite likes introducing songs with a phrases like "this next song is... great" but he manages to do it without sounding conceited too.

It was the band's first show since Christmas, but if they were at all rusty, it didn't show. As Garvey put it at the end: "This isn't a very difficult job, but you made it fucking easy". The pleasure (crowd distractions aside), was all mine, and I've come home wanting to listen to "Asleep In The Back", and you can't really say fairer than that.

7 / 10 - recommended.


  • At 11:12 am, Blogger Teresa Bowman said…

    Elbow are one of my favourite bands ever. "Cast of Thousands" is one of my favourite albums ever. "Leaders of the Free World" is on my list of about 50 albums that I really want but haven't bought yet (so much good music, so little money...). Guy Garvey just has a gorgeous voice, and his lyrics are superb.

    With you on the rudeness of people barging through/stopping and chatting in front of you. But that does tend to happen a lot more in some venues and less in others, I find. (It happens a lot at the Bristol Academy, which is one of the reasons I dislike that damn venue so much.)

  • At 11:26 am, Blogger swisslet said…

    I think the movement was bad at rock city last night partly because it wasn't a sell out and there was a bit more room for manoeouvre than usual.

    I shouldn't moan so much actually. At least I'm tall enough to almost always be able to see. It get mildly annoyed when someone tall stands in front of me, so God knows what the people behind me and Lord B think.

    Elbow are a great band though.


  • At 7:07 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    I'm probably one of those people that distracts you (although since I don't go to concerts often, maybe I'm exempt). I love to dance, and I'm not always very coordinated about it. Although I will say that I try to avoid hitting anyone, as I flail about.

  • At 9:56 pm, Blogger Alecya G said…

    Spinny, you are so cute it hurts.

    I liked that one Elbow song..."Puncture repair"

    Do you ever give a 10/10 I wondeR?

  • At 5:16 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    OK, but why have you illustrated this review with a photo of one of the Grumbleweeds?


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