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Elbow, the Hallé, the people: Castlefield Arena videoed

With Sleuth still away, Jonathan Schofield goes down to Castlefield Arena for a ‘lovely’ (that’s the perfect word) evening

Written by . Published on July 10th 2009.


Elbow, the Hallé, the people: Castlefield Arena videoed

Castlefield Arena was comfortably packed on Thursday evening.

People had come with picnic blankets, food and booze and spread them out on the cobbles. Others sat on the Greek theatre-style seating or lay out on the grass banks above. Some stood on the Roman Fort battlements or against retaining walls for a view.

We should get the Halle working with a Manchester band every two years. We should repeat this. Take That, Doves, Oasis, Happy Mondays, Ting Tings, Hollies, 10cc, The Fall. A reformed Smiths....one can dream. Hey, let's be kind, Simply Red anyone?

There was a big screen over the canal arm with the Y-Club and the Castlefield Hotel rising behind it. The curve of the West Coast mainline enclosed the south, the rise to Liverpool Road the north.

Castlefield Arena is a great space for the right show. A natural. This was the right show.

It was a Manchester moment. It was a trust your instincts event; one of those occasions where if you make a bit of effort to move your arse and get down somewhere you get repaid five fold.

On evenings like this Manchester seems the right place to be. Exciting. Fun. Special. With Elbow and the Hallé on this bright International Festival day it even seemed cuddly.

If you want the review of the gig at the Bridgewater Hall, click here.

What we got in Castlefield was a big carefree party for all the family. Re-calling it you recall little incidents and one big one with a special guest: the main man.

A train arrived on the viaduct during one song and halted whilst it waited for a signal. It looked like it had paused to be part of the action. The driver leaned out of his cab to look at the crowd. Five thousand people cheered him. He looked around to see who they meant. Realising it was him, he punched his fists in the air and grinned a grin as wide as the Edge Hill tunnels. The broadcast cameras focussed in on the driver in his cab in his train and he flashed up on the big screen. Not quite fifteen minutes of fame for that train driver but he'll never get that reaction again as he goes about his daily grind.

A boy of ten kept jumping up excitedly in front of a group of picnic blanket loungers in their twenties. “Who are you?” said one of the young men. "The Often Seen Kid.” It was said with a twinkle in the eye.

At the half hour interval in the Bridgewater Hall, Jesca Hoop, the indie, folk, American singer-song writer played on a stage in front of the screen. Ten minutes in Guy Garvey, Elbow’s lovable lead singer, joined her for a duet, after high-tailing it down from the Bridgewater Hall. This was beyond the call of duty, like working through your lunch-break, and the crowd loved him for it.

At the last song, Garvey joked, that everybody knew this wasn’t really the last song. He said something like: “It’d take a while for all the orchestra, the choir and everybody, to leave the stage for a fag. So after this one, clap wildly, cheer, and then we’ll come back for an encore of 'that song', you know the one I mean. Only we won’t have left the stage at any point.”

They played ‘that song’.

In the twilight everyone in Castlefield joined everyone in the Bridgewater Hall singing: “So throw those curtains wide, one day a year like this would see me right.”

Garvey also said: “Support the Festival, support the Bridgewater Hall, support the Hallé Orchestra. Because it’s gold on your doorstep.”

Indeed. Well done to the City Council for arranging the Castlefield broadcast as well.

This event is what the Festival was made for. Just as it was made for the more rarefied dramas and installations such as It Felt Like a Kiss or Marina Abramovic presents... It’s about coming up with ideas and then delivering something we remember.

We should get the Halle working with a Manchester band every two years. We should repeat this. Take That, Doves, Oasis, Happy Mondays, Ting Tings, Hollies, 10cc, The Fall. A reformed Smiths....one can dream. Hey, let's be kind, Simply Red anyone?

We’ve got a couple of scratchy phone videos for you. Press ‘play’ below to get an idea of the atmosphere. The first is the ‘train driver’ moment (it starts at 2 mins, 30 seconds) the second is the climax to the show and as Guy Garvey said, “our hit”, ‘One Day Like This’. These videos were filmed with children in tow - ah the wild spontaneousness of the web. Please excuse the occasional voice over from the nearby audience.

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29 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

John McrJuly 10th 2009.

As we walked away from the Arena you could hear everyone talking, everyone beaming with smiles and I think everyone was in agreement that events like that sum up Manchester, new and old both together and making a massive impression on everyone.

DeeJuly 10th 2009.

Possibly the most magical evening of my life.

Simon TJuly 10th 2009.

I think there's a much more 'Manchester aspect' to the Festival anyway - which is much to be welcomed - without wheeling out Take That and Oasis, neither of whom have the freshness of Elbow, let's be honest. And I don't think the Festival "needs" to knit the generations together; anyway, the generation who would most enjoy 10cc are the same generation as the average Halle fan anyway; 50 and 60 year olds. So that's not going to work is it? I think the Festival 'needs' to continue to provide intriguing, thoughtful, original work for a variety of audiences.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 10th 2009.

Simon, I think we're arguing along the same lines. I'm going to Hadid and Bach in the Art Gallery, all three of the latter aren't exactly new are they? Yet they seem original. One strongly popularist event, with a name rock/pop group would be magnificent. And don't be so simplistic about this: if the Halle re-interpreted Take That and the boys then sang it in a particular way, different from the way they usually do, and then you place that concert in an odd space, say Mayfield Station (the abandoned one next to Piccadilly) - well, tell me the point of difference with the Hadid event? None. Except every year we would wonder a little about who it will be for the next festival. Thus the press and everybody benefits. You build a sense of drama. Can you imagine the ticket scramble for the event I've just described? Ancilliary to this you do all the other types of events the festival already does so well.

H PalmerJuly 10th 2009.

Sweet Manchester moment.

CubbyJuly 10th 2009.

Great Article. Are you going to have a wrap up feature on MIF? It would be good to hear everyone's views. I think events like this gig and the procession and the pavillion are really helping the festival feel a part of Manchester as a whole.

LooJuly 10th 2009.

A magical evening... really special... for once in my life I was speechless as 'that song' echoed around the arena... A die happy moment if ever there was one... Thank you Elbow and the Halle xx

ChrisJuly 10th 2009.

Superb night. Sir Guy has stepped up as a first class ambasador for the City. It would be nice to think the beeb will screen this. Could not have been better as far as I'm concerned - shame the Bridgewater hall was full of 'prawn butty munchers' - but I guess these things need to be funded one way or another.

MahindinhoJuly 10th 2009.

Housemates and I managed to sneak into It Felt Like a Kiss -- Elbow was Plan B, and from your review perhaps it should have been Plan A.I've just gone from elated to deflated. Bugger.

Graham m'flatmateJuly 10th 2009.

You docked me? Motherdockers! Erm... i basically said it were alright weren't it! That Castlefield Arena is far too under-utilised in my opinion. It should have something on there every sunday afternoon, be it Indie/Jazz/Classical/Choirs/etc/etc...

Tracy WillsJuly 10th 2009.

That was a great night. Didn't be in the hall. More things like this please. As the writer says a lovely night for all generations.

Fan tasticJuly 10th 2009.

MIF just keeps on giving... Last night was just awesome. Thanks

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 10th 2009.

Simon T I think it's a good idea because the Festival needs an idea that knits the generations together and helps broadens the Festival appeal. I was also, that's Confidential's role, positing an idea and challenging people. So although I mentioned Happy Mondays, I think it'd be better to match 10cc, The Hollies, The Smiths (not that the latter will happen), Take That, Doves or Oasis with the Halle. Such gigs would be a good counterpoint to the main work of MIF with Marina Abramovic, Prima Madonna type spectaculars. They would also engender a sense of expectancy about who the next band to accompany the Halle might be and would give a very Manchester aspect to the Festival. If such an event happened every two years as a one-off it would fit the brief of the Festival. By the way, the brief has moved on from the original MIF in 2007. We now have apparently 'the world's first festival of original, new work and special events'. The idea would fit under the latter billing.

RobJuly 10th 2009.

Absolutely incredible. Thank you Manchester City Council, MIF and Elbow for an amazing night. More stuff like this please, makes you proud to be Mancunian!

RedJuly 10th 2009.

We need lots more things like this to utilise the arena. The atmosphere was great and Elbow sounded fab. All in all a great night!

EditorialJuly 10th 2009.

Graham, we docked you as we edited the page. Sorry. Repost if you like.

KirstenJuly 10th 2009.

I had a fantastic time last night the atmosphere at Castlefield was amazing. Elbow with the Halle were just unbelievable to watch I was gutted when I missed out on tickets but when I saw that they were doing a live screening to Castlefield I was so very excited about it and love the whole evening. Thank you MIF for putting this on and Elbow you did Manchester proud

RosJuly 10th 2009.

Really enjoyed the gig at Castlefield last night, I'm so glad I went. Please Manchester, can we have more of this? Did anyone hear the Cathedral bells as they walked back into town. Magic!

Simon TJuly 10th 2009.

Jonathan, you sure? How to ruin a great idea; repeat it, but without any sense of orginality. The Halle with Happy Mondays? Sounds horrible.

GillJuly 10th 2009.

Bought ticket from the box office on Tuesday for the Thursday night show. Thank you Manchester International Festival for letting me know in the daily festival update that there were some tickets being released for sale that day. One of the best gigs ever, even better than that magical night with Hugh Masekela at the International way back when. Possibly the best Manchester night ever.

Rob CantryJuly 10th 2009.

I was one of those who didn't trust their instincts. Why didn't I bloody just go. That's really funny with the train driver.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 10th 2009.

Cubby we are indeed. We think it's been splendid from Kraftwerk onwards with scarcely a slip-up. I've also got an interview going up with Festival Director, Alex Poots next week.

Big RobJuly 10th 2009.

First Kraftwerk, then this truly magical evening in Castlefield - this has been a fantastic week as a music nut in Manchester, heartfelt thanks to all involved in making last night possible.

HELENJuly 10th 2009.

What an amazing evening, am so glad I was part of it!! Guy Garey's voice sounded amazing and so did the Halle. Think I might have fallen in love with him!!!!

Lord BeechingJuly 10th 2009.

No wonder my train was late arriving last night!

megJuly 10th 2009.

It was a magical night - one of the best I've ever had in Manchester. Everything was perfect - the music, the atmosphere, the sunshine and the train driver! Was a joy to be a part of such a happy event.

hmottJuly 10th 2009.

MCC and MIF please more, more and more of the same!!! Well done everyone. Does anyone know if the BBC are planning to put it on air?

Anthony McCaulJuly 10th 2009.

It was absolutely ace to see the Arena full last night and being used so effectively. Brilliant show - Lets start a campaign to get a proper monthly programme next summer of Halle shows on the big screen. Spinningfields has films, why not music for Castlefield arena.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2009.

Icing on the cake was the town hall bells ringing out afterwards. Pavilion is turning into the best little bar in town - brilliant atmosphere with Haslam playing Kraftwerk last week. More!

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