Elbow. Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, Glos.
Band I adore, who were gig 6, in a forest in Gloucestershire. Ticket gifted by wonderful friend who also drove us there & back.
Elbow. Wonderful, wonderful Elbow. A band I’ve waited years to see live and then, like buses you get 2 gigs come along in the space of a few months. Gig 6 was Elbow in Plymouth and they had been so special that night (it remains the top gig of them all, so far) that I was looking forward to seeing them again with huge anticipation. My lovely friend (also an Emma) picked me up from work and off we set, on a road trip to the countryside for a gig the likes of which neither of us had been to before.
We were really early and manged to get in the queue and right to the front. This, as it turns out, was to be a new experience for Emma. She’d not been to a gig for ages, had never seen Elbow and had never been at the front before. She did it all for me. What a pal. We made new friends in Lisa & Mark, who were also popping their Elbow cherry and Alan who was celebrating his 50th birthday 🙂 At just 40 I was the baby of the group and the only one who’d seen the band before.
Support was from Steve Mason, who I didn’t think I knew, but as I recognised about half his set, I clearly do. He came on looking ever so slightly like Robin Hood (which will be funnier when this run of gigs plays Sherwood Forest, which it will) and I really enjoyed his set. There were a couple of stand out tracks, but without a set list or decent memory (its been over 48 hours since the gig) I couldn’t tell you what they were. Just that you should seek him out, cos he’s good.
Then Elbow. Our boys. And you know, they are, Guy is known for being an affable chap. And a fantastic frontman. Which he is. Prowling the stage like a loveable bear, telling jokes, getting everyone to join in. Like a favourite uncle at a family party, the one everyone secretly wishes were their Dad/husband/best mate. I’ll never hear the words Forestry Commission again without giving a small whoop and laughing.
Any Day Now was a great opener, followed up with Bones of You and Flyboy Blue. One of the biggest cheers of the night came at this early point, when Guy kept everyone improvising as the sound crew attempted to fix Craig’s keys which had cut out midway through a song “we leave no man behind, keep playing lads.”
It was the first time they had played Head For Supplies live, and it sounded ace, I thought Guy was singing part of it to me, turned out to be an amorous couple a few rows back! I had a gert big grin on my face through the first half of the set, I was so happy to be there in the front row, singing along at the top of my lungs and dancing, drinking in the experience of being outside in the sunshine watching one of my favourite bands. It was amazing. It was equally as emotional as Plymouth had been, but for different reasons. That had been just 6 days after I’d split up with my boyfriend of 6 years. If Plymouth had been about releasing those emotions, Tetbury was about joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.
Until they played Switching Off. A song inspired by the love you would think of in your dying moments, as your life flashes before you eyes. Given that Presuming Ed (Rest Easy) by Elbow was the music that kept me alive, when I could fairly easily have been living my final moments, you can understand why I was overcome with emotion. Why the tears fell, and kept falling.
It was only for that one song, though, the beauty & humanity & love in the rest of the music made me smile and keep smiling. Just as the beauty, humanity & love in the people who cared for me, and in my wonderful friends and son make me smile. Even Little Fictions, which is as close to a novella or short film you’ll find in song, has hope shot through it. It’s why I adore Elbow’s music, and its why they have come to the fore when they have, their music touches hearts & souls to pass on humanity, kindness and hope. Things perhaps found wanting in recent times. Whenever I need something, I will find it in music. And usually in an Elbow song. Love is the original miracle.
They ‘closed’ with One Day Like This, and I cannot add to my description of it from last time, it is a beautiful gift given lovingly from the band to us. To each and every one of us in that crowd.
By the time they came out for the encore I think its fair to say they were all half cut. Guy delivered a heartfelt, slightly drunken speech about Manchester and how the outpouring of love & togetherness after recent tragedies was our only response. Could be our only response. If I didn’t already love him. Ah, you know. The 3 closing songs were all as wonderful as the previous 15 had been. It was another emotional and special night. I get the feeling Elbow gigs always are.
Thank you to the crew; the lighting was superb, as was the sound, and whichever roadie gave me Guy’s setlist (complete with dirty footprints) so I can remember and treasure every moment. Thank you, again, to the band. Elbow you were magnificent. Brilliant. Wonderful. Amazing. And all the other good words. I adore your music, and I adored this gig. The smile was still there at the end. This was a gig about love and joy and celebrating life and it was wonderful.
24 down. 16 to go.