This is Guy Garvey, lead singer of Elbow – although that fact doesn’t need detain us for too long; certain bands will always occupy a niche in the pop and rock firmament, a default “edgy” and “alternative” option for those who purchase their records exclusively from supermarkets. See the chap in the cheap suit climbing into his Vauxhall Corsa? There’s a long drive ahead of him, another sales conference in Kettering, and with his pudgy fingers he’s about to jab the latest Elbow release towards his car stereo. On the drive back home, he might listen to some power rock ballads, maybe stop off in a lay-by for a listless wank.
Comic exaggeration aside, it’s Garvey’s moonlighting that’s of far more interest in these parts, the Sunday evening graveyard slot on 6Music. The magic of bedtime radio; evocation via song writ large. There’s something special about dark, wintery nights, the lights turned down low, sounds drifting from the stereo as snowflakes whisper across the windowpanes. And when 6Music goes off piste, slipping the shackles of its occasionally pedestrian daytime playlist, wonderful things begin to happen.
It’s somewhat of a risk to have so many musicians presenting shows, rather than the more orthodox professional broadcaster approach, but what the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Tom Robinson, Cerys Matthews, and Huey Morgan all do – seemingly effortlessly – is to position their ingrained enthusiasm with such poise and elegance, as if inviting the listener onto some kind of shared plain. And much to my initial surprise, Elbow’s frontman is an inspired choice for late night turntable duty.
Last night’s show being a case in point. Beginning with ‘Crush’ by The Smashing Pumpkins (an underrated classic from their début album, before the band drifted off towards annoyance), seguing into Spiritualized’s ‘Broken Heart’ (sigh), then settling upon Bowie’s rarely played ‘Buddha of Suburbia’; what I’d label a perfectly weighted triumvirate with which to kick off a radio show.
Later, Nick Drake, TV On The Radio, even a trip to the delightful Betty Blue soundtrack. But Garvey also featured the track below the words – something I can’t ever recall having heard on the radio before, and of which I have no qualms when admitting my attachment (even though it’s from a 1952 musical). In fact the shards of melancholia etched across this track make me a little weak at the knees (when it’s dark, and late, and the snowflakes whisper across the windowpane).
Danny Kaye / Inchworm