Guy Garvey’s experience as Elbow’s front man shone through throughout a fantastic evening of entertainment as part of Forest LIVE.
Sauntering on stage, beer in hand, his ease at his art is obvious, and rightly so. An unlikely looking pop star, stocky yet gentle, singer, songwriter and musician, Guy looked totally relaxed as he delivered a faultless performance to a rapturous audience who gave mutual respect on Saturday night.
Backed by a brilliant six-piece multi instrumentalist band, or ‘GLB’ as he refers to them – the ‘Good Little Band’, the Ivor Novello and Mercury Award-winning artist performed an hour and a half of his own solo material from his album Courting the Squall. Brilliant anecdotes were worth the entrance fee alone. The utterly charming, Garvey relays waking up on his tour bus in Sherwood Forest (waking up? some hadn’t been to bed he discloses) p***ed out of their heads and finding an archery set. Old school friend Sinead Gamble in the audience too being the source of many a laugh, including the story of Melton the rabbit, named after the street Garvey lived on because they couldn’t be bothered to think of a name, retelling the story of its death Garvey declares he’s found the epitome of Sherwood’s sympathy.
It is however the poignant, tender and instantly recognisable gruff unwavering vocals of the tenor which shine. Musical differences divide his solo material from some of the more experimental Elbow pieces. Not quite as epic in production or grandeur as say On a Day Like This or Seldom Seen Kid, but it doesn’t matter. Lyrically, dramatically and vocally they are still melodically perfect. The synth laden, almost psychedelic Angela’s Eyes is a highlight as is the dramatic,almost spoken ballad Belly of the Whale.
Garvey’s lyrics can be poetry or a thing of wonder, yet he himself admits to confusing words and as the evening progresses so do the hilarious anecdotes “Did that just come out of my head? I thought it was internal dialogue” he quips. It’s no wonder Garvey has become so adored by his fans.
The strong bond with the band is evident, talented professionals who still manage to come across as a bunch of mates genuinely enjoying each others company, laughter ensued with bassist and Garvey’s best man, Peter Jobson. The deadpan story-teller treating the audience to a couple of ditty’s he wrote, referring to Philip Roths writing as “furiously, for the want of a paracetamol.”
Set against a back drop of the atmospheric lit Sherwood forest, on-stage lighting complemented the mood of the songs.
An appreciative audience sing Garvey and co back for an encore, and are treated to a rousing heartfelt rendition of The Ink Spots, I don’t want to set the World of Fire, the audience singing along again, this time to the chorus, plus another electrifying delivery of Angela’s Eyes, concluding with the whole band taking a deserved standing ovation.
Looking like he was thoroughly enjoying the evening himself throughout, the endlessly entertaining, Guy Garvey has mastered making brilliant performance look effortless.
By Tanya Raybould