Sunday 27 November 2011

Leeds Day Two, Part the Second: Whacking the Hell Out of a Snare Drum

And we ate quickly, then returned to the Main Stage to enjoy Elbow and Muse. Let me say that again. Elbow and Muse. I like saying that. Two of my favourite bands in one sentence. Elbow and Muse. (Okay, I'll stop now.)

I was slightly... well, apprehensive is over-stating it, since I really think Guy Garvey's charm has taken on the power of a force of nature, but I was interested, let's say, to see how Elbow would cope with the Leeds crowd, particularly that part of it which had been hanging around in the mud for hours in the hope of getting prime position for Muse. I need not have worried, since their patented opener of ambling on stage, fag in mouth, pint glass raised aloft, is usually guaranteed to win the crowd. (I'm reminded of the tale of the journalist who went to interview Elbow in a pub before a gig, and ended up staying there with them for most of the afternoon. Towards the end, he looked at his watch and muttered "Bloody hell, aren't you on in an hour?" The band nodded and made to leave. Catching his stare at the table littered with empties, Garvey apparently looked at him, winked and replied "Don't worry - we haven't gone on stage sober in 16 years".)

If anything, Elbow were probably what the crowd really needed, even if they didn't know it. I'd read an interview before hand in which Guy Garvey stated they were going to "do the cheesy festival stuff", and there was certainly plenty of "this section of the crowd, cheer loudly... now this section cheer EVEN LOUDER... now let's all wave our hands in the air", but this was no bad thing given the risk of incipient hypothermia. Also, Elbow these days have The Songs. Everyone knows "One Day Like This", which may well be one of the best closing tunes ever, in my entirely biased opinion, but "Neat Little Rows" and "Grounds for Divorce" are bloody good, especially with the light show going off at full blast behind them and Garvey whacking the hell out of a snare drum.

Appropriately enough, though, given that it's the song Elbow fought to play live on the BBC after winning the Mercury, "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" was The Moment. You don't tend to hear about "Leeds Moments" in the same way as "Glastonbury Moments" (or "Reading Moments" either - funny how being at Leeds makes you feel like the poor relation), but this was it. It is still the song that gets me every time when I listen to "Seldom Seen Kid", and I swear I saw the entire crowd at Leeds staring open-mouthed at the stage, temporarily transported by the sheer force of emotion coming from the stage. After that (and this is not a sentence I type often), Muse had a hard act to follow. Next time...

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