Elbow, What A Band

What makes a particular person’s singing voice great? I was thinking this last night whilst watching Elbow’s recording of “The Seldom Seen Kid” with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Choir. We’ve long been fans of Elbow in L&L Mansions, since seeing them at Reading back in 2001. Guy Garvey, it has to be said, looks like a slightly disgruntled plasterer, but he has a voice quite unlike anyone else around at the moment. It’s suprisingly high for a bloke of his build (ahem), though not quite in Andrew Montgomery territory. It’s got a lovely Mancunian lilt to it, adding character, plus he has a very slight lisp, adding texture. And it helps that’s he’s a deft lyricist.

Take, for example, the opening lines to “Starlings”, the opening song of their last album. “How dare the Premier ignore my invitations?/He’ll have to go/So, too, the bunch he luncheons with/It’s second on my list of things to do/At the top I’m stopping by/Your place of work and acting like/I haven’t dreamed of you and I/And marriage in an orange grove”. Just look at the rhythm in the line “So, too, the bunch he luncheons with”, with the rhyme of bunch and luncheon. It’s breathed as much as it’s sung, and as the song builds to a crescendo as he describes falling in love as “I’m spinning and I’m diving like a cloud of starlings”. Wonderful stuff. Follow the link above to listen to the BBC version, and see the MP3 below.

Anyway, watching them last night made me remember what a lovely band they are, and how it’s been great to see them develop into a band that’ll be playing Wemberley Arena in March. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch.

And the guitarist plays a Godin which is the sign of a gentleman and a scholar.

Starlings by Elbow

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  1. Big Fella

     /  February 17, 2009

    Fully agree, that concert makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time. I have it on mp4 if you want it.

  2. Bit late to this article, but I was involved in the development of Elbow’s first website, way back in the day.

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