FRESH from performing on The Mall as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Elbow singer Guy Garvey has the air of an excited schoolboy as he and the band prepare to grace the stage at the Lytham Festival for the first time.

With nine albums to their name and hundreds of live shows behind them, it’s refreshing to hear a performer so genuinely looking forward to an outdoor date.

“We did a few gigs back in September and if those shows are anything to go by, the festivals this summer are going to be the best ever,” said the Bury-born singer. “We noticed that not only were people singing their heads off, all their emotions were amplified. People were so relieved to be back together again(after lockdown).

“It was joyful. We’re going to see some scenes this summer that’s for sure. I’m just so excited.”


Guy Garvey (Picture: David Harrison)

Guy Garvey (Picture: David Harrison)


The connection between band and audience has always been a strong one as far as Elbow are concerned.

“We absolutely love festivals,” he said. “Festivals and people throwing themselves into song when I asked them to for the first time ended up with us writing Cast of Thousands (the band’s second album from 2003) with singing in mind. The first and last tunes on that record are all about that and whole idea of writing at least one song per album for the crowd to sing at shows led to our biggest hit – that’s why One Day Like This exists.

“The whole festival experience completely informs the band we are. You’ve got this quiet experimental introspection and the quite detailed stuff then you have these unabashed explosions of love and friendship and community and civic pride; it’s all about getting together, that’s the whole point. Life is other people.”


Elbow will play Lytham Festival next month

Elbow will play Lytham Festival next month


Guy and his fellow band members suffered like the rest of us when the country enduring almost two years or restrictions and lockdowns due to the Covid pandemic.

“Those gigs we did in September were very much touch and go,” he said. “We really didn’t know until the day that any of them would go ahead. The band and three of our crew were in a tight bubble and it was a bit like going back to the days of heading up and down the M6 in a Transit van like we did when we started off.

“But the gigs were amazing. Two years was far too long for anyone to be away from things - it certainly is when you’re approaching 50. I was thinking ‘you can’t do this to me, I’ve only got one life!’”

In spite of lockdown, Elbow worked on the album Flying Dream 1 which went straight into the top 10 of the album chart on its release in November last year.

“You can do a certain amount of work separately,” said Guy. “Elbow have done three, maybe four albums that way but we have to get together to do a lot of it. There will normally be three of four intense writing trips with Elbow for a new album.

“For Flying Dream, the first time we all got together together was to record it in an empty theatre in Brighton. It was amazing.

“First to be back with my mates was wonderful. We put some wine away you’ll be happy to hear.

“Then setting up on stage in front of an empty auditorium was so cathartic, such a signifier of the time. It was so beautiful and we got what I think is our favourite record out of it. It’s a beautiful, quiet gentle thing which is about all our childhoods in the North.

“Usually by the time you come to record a song, you know it so well you’re just concentrating technically on the performance of it. But with this we’d written them all apart and they never sounded as good as they were in that moment. So it was incredibly emotional.

“We did several takes of each song but we ended up going with the one that had the most emotion behind it.”


Guy Garvey and Elbow performing on the Park Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, 2017

Guy Garvey and Elbow performing on the Park Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, 2017


Emotion is a very powerful force in the life of Elbow - both within the band and from the fans.

“I think that’s why we do festivals so well here,” said Guy. “We’re very good at getting together and we’re very good at celebrating our art and looking after one another in that way. The cynical ‘people are cattle’ attitude which you have to have to be in the Tory party may exist but the exact opposite is prevalent at festivals. Going to them tops up my humanity for the year; it tops up my faith in other people.”

At Lytham, Elbow will be supported by Richard Hawley.

“I can’t wait for that,” said Guy. “He’s a lovely man. We first met when we were flying to Tennessee to play with the surviving members of the Muscle Shoals studio band. He was waiting at the airport and the first thing he said was ‘do you like Guinness?’ When I said I did he pulled out a six pack. Then he asked me if I liked Battleships? We weren’t sat together so across the aisle of the plane you could hear us shouting “F5 - take that Englisher pig dog”. Someone moved so we could sit together and a lifelong friendship was born.”

Elbow with Richard Hawley play Lytham Festival on Thursday, July 7. Details from