06 August 2009

Elbow room

I remember the day when I was finally converted to the religion of Elbow. you know, that time-honoured belief system led by guru Guy Garvey. I'd heard the most luscious love song ever - "One Day Like This" :

drinking in the morning sun
blinking in the morning sun
shaking off the heavy one
heavy like a loaded gun

what made me behave that way?
using words I never say
I can only think it must be love
oh, anyway...
it's looking like a beautiful day...

you must not be human if that doesn't move you. not to mention the orchestration behind the lyrics, whew!

so when I read that Elbow were coming to D.C. to do one of their only two headlining gigs in America this year (the other date being in Los Angeles; they have since added an Atlanta date this coming Saturday, 8 August), I knew I just had to be there.

I also schemed such that I would head down to the club directly from work (via D.C.'s lumbering mass transit system to avoid figuring out where to put my car downtown where it wouldn't get hit or stolen) and queue up early. this was rather farcical, because I arrived promptly as I expected, around 5 PM (a good two hours before the doors would open, and another 4 1/2 until Elbow would take the stage) and not one soul was there. good, I thought.

oddly, three city policemen were standing right in front of the venue. I wondered how long I was going to have to wait by myself. two girls went up to the box office and were turned away b/c the show had sold out. I suggested they come back later b/c there are always people walking around outside the 9:30 before the doors open, trying to sell their tickets to other fans at face value. (note: my only gripe with English venues: touts run rampant outside every gig - at least I've seen them at all the ones I've been to. scruffy blokes have tried to chat me up either to sell tickets at inflated prices - "d'you need a ticket for tonight's show, luv?" - or they want to buy them cheaply off you in order to turn around and tout it to someone else - "anybody got tickets they want to sell?") I hope the girls did come back and were able to get in.

15 minutes later, a couple who had driven down from Philadelphia (the girl being a fellow music blogger!) arrived. we chatted a long time. we also stood next to the front door and I could hear them soundchecking for "Starlings" (the trumpets!), "One Day Like This", and "Grounds for Divorce". they sounded great many, many feet away and through glass, so I could only imagine what they'd sound like a couple feet away when I'd be standing at the barrier.

this gig also marks the first time I've ever been first in line at a gig.

then around 6 PM, the girl's boyfriend walked over from where we were standing - next to the box office/will call window. I had no idea why he'd walked over there...but it turns out it was b/c he recognised the figure of Guy Garvey, who had just come out of the front door of the venue and was looking for the band's tourbus. I'd seen it earlier, parked on the side street next to the venue. but poor Guy, he looked lost b/c he was probably thinking, where did it go, I JUST saw it!

so the girl said, "I think that's Guy Garvey, I'll save your spot, go over there and talk to him!" so I did. I was a nervous wreck. I am always this way around people who make music I adore. I hope one of these days I'll become the cool as a cucumber that one of my good friends is ALWAYS around rock stars, but the truth of the matter is, the level of respect I have for musicians/singers/songwriters is so high, I have difficulty rationalising that they might actually be normal, nice people. for everyone I've met so far, that's been the case. so what am I worrying about?

I'm really not sure how I got words out of my mouth, but it basically consisted of me telling him I was covering the event for our American music blog and going to do a write-up (he thanked me for that, that was so cute!). then we started talking about Stuart Maconie and Manchester (he said, "you know Stuart Maconie too? he's a good man, he is...") and then I said I was so glad that they came back to D.C. b/c I missed the show in April 2008 b/c I was ill with the flu. they'd played the Sixth and I Synagogue, a tiny venue with awesome acoustics but where no acts are allowed to curse. (seriously.) I also added, "I'll look out for Elaine the singer, I listened in on your Finest Hour show on Sunday!" and he just beamed, I think he was so happy that an American listened to his 6music programme. (if I get a sideways mention in his show this week, I will die.) he is just one big, adorable teddy bear. in all, v. exciting event in my life.

this incident was even detailed on 6music yesterday by Steve Lamacq for his National Anthem feature - have a listen, when he played one of my favourite songs in addition to telling everyone in the UK what had happened to me. I seriously need to give that man a lifetime supply of pints.

the review is done, I finished it last night - I'll add the link to the featured item at Popwreckoning later today when it posts, so watch this space!

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