ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Richard Whittaker, Fri., Sept. 23, 2011
ElbowZilker Park, Sept. 18
As the epic intimacy of "The Birds" ebbed and swelled like a tide under gray, gathering clouds, Guy Garvey and his celestial Northern English rockers should have felt at home. As the storm cloud bass line of "Neat Little Rows" rumbled out, he took time to survey his crowd like a proud uncle. "My fair English skin is porous," he announced, sweating in the heat, but he promised rain, and even made the crowd pledge not to flee the first heavy drops. He strikes an unlikely figure for a stadium hero – rumpled and self-deprecating, like an indie rock Ray Winstone. But when he finally let that vibrato soar over "The Bones of You," he transcended his Brit-rock roots, evoking the battered poignancy of Peter Gabriel's finest moments. For an hour, a chubby, flush-faced Mancunian with the tremulous voice of a cherub held the great lawn in captive sway.