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Elbow In Concert: Video, Pics, Words

Jonathan Schofield and a fine Manchester band in a fine Manchester building

Written by . Published on October 29th 2011.

Elbow In Concert: Video, Pics, Words

EVERY YEAR there are a few Manchester moments. These are those defining episodes when you feel it's so very very good to be part of this city. 

The acoustic was beautiful, the hairs rose on the back of the neck whenever the Halle Youth Choir joined in perched as they were on the choir screen.

Sometimes they're open events - the Manchester Day Parade for example - or sometimes they're closed and you get lucky and you get a ticket. 

Thursday 27 October was one of the latter and I got lucky. One of Manchester's finest bands was appearing in one of the city's greatest buildings. It was a marriage made in heaven, or at least BBC2 and the diocese - congratulations to both

On stage were Elbow, having a perfect 20th birthday celebration in a building where music and life have been celebrated for 24 generations. And that's just in this current building. There's been worship and singing on this site for at least millennium, so let's round that up to 50 generations.

Guy Garvey, intelligent, sensitive man of the world and doyen of the Briton's Protection pub, recognised he was part of this long legacy. He took the time to point this out not only to the hundreds in the Cathedral and watching on in the nearby Exchange Square, but to the millions listening on the BBC. 

Building and band were matched up through Garvey's voice, which is at times angelic. Physically he's got the stature of an opera singer and at times his range is as broad. Up on the nave ceiling the choir of angels carved in the 1400s seemed to look down in approval. 

The tunes, nay anthems, were made grander and amplified by the setting. Elbow can be a bit chugga chugga so the acoustic was simply beautiful, the hairs rising on the back of the neck whenever the Halle Youth Choir joined in, perched as they were high on the choir screen.

Of course there was audience frenzy when 'One Day Like This' began to throw its curtains back, but that intensity seemed to go up another three or four notches when the chorus of 'Open Arms' powered out - 'We got open arms for broken hearts/Like yours my boy, come home again.'

Here's a brief shakey video of that moment.

Near to me, one youngish couple were lost in a trance of exaltation. His arms round her from behind, gently swaying, one of her breasts cheekily cupped in his palm. It was sweet. Close behind me there was another type of emotion, a woman of maybe 38, lost in tears, sobbing her broken heart out. Different stories coalescing in the music.

There was fun as well. Garvey leading the audience in a little ditty about Manchester and how do you cope if you live elsewhere, poor lamb. Here's another brief shakey video.

BBC2 had about 60 or 70 production bods working on the evening and it was a success, for the band and the building. The way the light flickered through the filigree of carvings in the choir screen was extraordinary. The clever lighting of the stained glass from outside added drama to the scene, and created spectacle for the music.

The Cathedral should do this a lot more. Of course there are plans. What events like this do is restores to the Cathedral its central public role in city life, pushing it into the very heart of Manchester.

A memorable evening. A Manchester moment. 


The Birds


Grounds For Divorce

The Night Will Always

Lippy Kids

Weather To Fly

Open Arms

One Day Like This

Some Riot

The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Drive

Dear Friends


Station Approach

Scattered Black And Whites

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