At the moment, I’m sitting at home watching Elbow perform at the Reading Festival, which I recorded last weekend. They’ve got the audience in the palm of their hands and it’s not the first time this festival season. I’ve seen (parts of their) sets at the Lowlands Festival, Pinkpop and Glastonbury on tv and to me they really stood out this year. Obviously, the band’s been around for a long time, but it seems like (at least in the Netherlands) they’ve really made an impact this festival season.
Which, to me at least, is quite unusual. Most of their material is ballad-like, long 9 minute songs with many layers, which would almost suit a film more than a festival. Songs like ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’ and the absolutely magnificent ‘Lippy Kids’ aren’t exactly the first songs that come to mind when you think of festival hits. Quiet songs that you really have to listen to. Emotional. And most of all beautiful and touching. Usually Dutch audiences aren’t very good at listening to that kind of material. They prefer to chat to each other instead of giving the artist and the music the respect they deserve. But somehow it’s different with Elbow.
Elbow commands your attention. I’m not quite sure how, but I think that the likeability factor and the charisma of singer Guy Garvey might have something to do with it. He’s a proper frontman who can dictate an audience. And he seems genuine when he shouts a cliche line like ‘You guys are great!’ or ‘We love being here!’. But I guess most of all it’s the music. The beautiful songs of Elbow.