Elbow make it One Day Like This at Jodrell Bank

Live from Jodrell Bank 2012 review

By Neil Borg Olivier | Published: Tue 26th Jun 2012


Saturday 23rd to Sunday 24th June 2012
Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre and Arboretum, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK119DL, England MAP
£35 - Elbow day sold out
Daily capacity: 5,000
Last updated: Mon 25th Jun 2012

As the early departing made their way from Live from Jodrell Bank last night, they would have glanced back to see a scene reminiscent of those deep space images captured by the Lovell telescope dominating the skyline here in deepest Cheshire. The sunburst fireworks, the dustcloud smoke shrouding the telescope, pierced with beams of purple blue light from the spacecraft-like main stage. It was an interstellar vision set to the soaring encore of Elbow's 'One Day Like This' that greeted the fleet-footed as they squinted back through trees and sheeting rain, ensuring they were among the first to escape from the muddied plains of car park 2B.

Their decision to join the ranks of the derided early-darters may seem justified this morning as the news filters through that day two of Live from Jodrell Bank has been cancelled due to heavy rain. The cancellation will not come as a surprise to those who had to be towed from the boggy fields by tractors as Saturday turned to Sunday with the rain showing no sign of abating.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to remember the successful first day purely through the gloomy eyes of the weary, washed-out and tractor-winched. Before Elbow graced the stage the weather held out nicely, and bathed in the warm greying clouds that constitute a summer's day in Greater Manchester, it was clear that the organisers had done a great job on what they were calling 'Transmission 002' of Live from Jodrell Bank. Willy Mason, and Lianne La Havas warmed the growing crowd up nicely, the latter's set encompassing a successful audience marriage proposal amidst the soulful grooves, perfect for a late afternoon crowd cooking nicely on real ale and chow mein.

around the festival site
Appetites whetted by the smell of the food stalls, we headed through to the 'Science Area' to sample the delightfully monikered 'Gandhi's Flip-Flop' vegetarian Indian cuisine and visit 'The Zone', an interactive exhibit looking at the science of sport. Heading back to the main arena as the clouds darkened the sky, we caught the first glimpses of the lighting that would culminate so impressively as midnight approached and Elbow closed out. This time it was Cherry Ghost on stage, the five-piece from Bolton, whose down-in-the-dirt Americana juxtaposed awkwardly with the futuristic, nebula-esque blue and purple light show. Despite the audio-visual imbalance, Cherry Ghost proved a popular act amongst the early evening crowd; their country infused alternative sound winning more admirers as the set progressed.

After Cherry Ghost we had Dr. Tim O'Brien take to the stage to talk us through some of the work done at the site. This was a surprisingly well-received half-hour of science amid the sound, its popularity greatly improved by a demonstration of how the gigantic Lovell telescope moves and a live video link up with the V.L.T (Very Large Telescope¬Ö no really) site in the Chilean Andes.

As if to bookend the science sideshow and introduce the main event, primary support Field Music followed Dr. O'Brien. At first it seemed like a good fit, the tempo quickened and the early, choppy guitar-led movements found favour with a crowd growing impatient for the gig to begin in earnest. However, as the set moved into the middle period pockets of the crowd dissipated to the stalls, one retreating reveller cheekily quipping that the North Easterners sound "like Sting covering a Busted Song." This was largely unfair on Field Music, the muted reaction doing a disservice to the sophisticated instrumentals, vocal interplay and creative song structures of a band with a polished set that perhaps just flirted a little heavily with pop sounds for an Elbow crowd.

As Field Music closed out the stronger back end of their set to a warm reception from the crowd swelled by this time with those trying to get a good spot for Elbow, the beauty of this unique live music venue was becoming apparent. The sky bruised over with purple sunset and blackened clouds, and as it let forth the first drops of an impending downpour Guy Garvey announced the main event with a booming "Elbow to Control Room", and mirroring the forward surge of the now substantial throng, the Lovell telescope lurched its imposing frame toward the stage to the early strains of 'High Ideals'. Elbow's set was as strong as you would expect from seasoned and critically acclaimed Mercury winners. Garvey's personable nature filled out the breaks in the set as he conversed at once with the crowd at large and then with individuals, including a young girl called Keira who urged everybody to ignore the by now torrential rain and enjoy the show.

The now signature orchestral flavour of late-Elbow was a big feature of the set, and there can be no doubt as to the sophistication, flair and beauty of the songs, crafted as they are, seemingly at once, from introspective anxiety, strutting confidence and intense lyrical profundity. However, whilst the standout tracks from the most recent 'Build a Rocket Boys' album were present and correct (save for the surprise omission of the popular and excellent 'Neat Little Rows'), it was perhaps an indicator of the inability of that album to match the career-defining 'Seldom Seen Kid' that 7 of the 14 song set came from the latter, including the volcanic 'Grounds for Divorce', the operatic 'Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver', and the intensely personal and crushingly beautiful 'Weather to Fly'.

The rain continued to drench the ground as Elbow signed off their set with a moving rendition of cult-favourite 'Scattered Black and Whites' and returned to send the soaked masses home with the outstanding 'Birds' and anthemic 'One Day Like This'. As undoubtedly excellent as Elbow were, it would be remiss to ignore the abiding image of a VW Passat being raised from the mudflats like not-yet-rusted shipwreck by two 14-year olds in a tractor. The organisers need to address this if they are to make progress with Live From Jodrell Bank, which has the potential to be one of the most outstanding and unique live music events in the country.

around the festival site
review by: Neil Borg Olivier

photos by: Lynsey Hanvey

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