Salford Film Festival Music Day/Elbow

Islington Mill, Salford, 21/11/2009
By Simon Poole

Thankfully for me on this stereotypical rainy and windswept Salfordian lunchtime, the venue I’m attending is literally on my doorstep. As I leave the front door of the block of flats I live in, I barely have time to light my cigarette, look both ways before crossing the road and I am at the door to Islington Mill. 

As part of Salford Film Festival 2009 this former cotton spinning mill is hosting a day of music films. On entering the main downstairs room there is a selection of seating that is made up of old couches, armchairs, fold up camping chairs and wooded benches, all facing a projector screen that is stretched between two of the many pillars that are holding up the low ceiling. 

The first screening is Memory and Desire: 30 Years in The Wilderness With Stephen Duffy and The Lilac Time. I do have some knowledge of Mr. Duffy, as at the peak of his popularity to the masses, was around the time that my fascination with music began. It has always been well documented that he was original singer with Duran Duran before they were to be signed to EMI. After a couple of flirtations with solo work hitting the UK charts in the early eighties, he then went on to be the singer with The Lilac Time. 

Throughout this film I see that he sometimes struggles with who he is and was. Even though he often talks openly and honestly in this film, I still feel by the time the credits roll that I don’t really know that much more about him. 

Next up is The Beat is The Law. Part 1, which is a straight up documentary of the Sheffield music scene in the eighties. The layout is exactly the same as many of the Manchester or Factory Records music documentaries that you will have seen on television over the last few years. It cuts from interviews with the people that were there at the time, such as Richard Hawley, Jarvis Cocker, Mark Brydon and many more, to original footage of the era. It follows the life of the city through the Thatcherite era and how it affected the people in the communities and spurred them on to be more creative. By the end of the film the only question I am left asking is “When will Part 2 be out?” The answer to this is when funding has been found. Hopefully not too soon! 

See full size imageIt is now dark outside and it’s time for a short but sweet slide show of work by Kevin Cummins, probably the best well known Manchester and Salford music photographer of the last 25 years. As the pictures of The Buzzcocks, The Fall, Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and many more pass by, I seem to be spending most of my time noticing the backdrops of the shoots that contain much of the cities buildings and streets I recognise from my youth. 

I have just enough time to nip back home for a bite to eat and a brew before heading over the road again for the Soup Collective 10 Retrospective. For the past decade SC have been combining a love of film with a curiosity as to what’s possible between the realms of technology and analogue. They divide their time between producing long-form films and promos for the likes of Elbow, The Verve and Editors alongside developing their own film-based projects.

Before the advertised “Acoustic Set” we are treated to videos they have created for the aforementioned artists as well as many others and also backstage footage they have recorded along the way. 

In front of where the makeshift screen is, there is now microphones, a keyboard, a drum kit and several stools and the room is now bursting at the seems with around a hundred people or so. As the last video ends, the centre stage stool is taken up by no other than Guy Garvey and the keyboard is now manned by Craig Potter. The first song they give is short and gentle Puncture Repair, which is followed by the equally tender Some Riot. After this the rest of Elbow take up their positions on the tiny makeshift stage and proceed into Fugitive Motel. Mr. Garvey lets us in to his thoughts and feelings of Soup Collective between songs and they are very favourable, saying that over the past decade they have managed to make his band look cool with the graphics and videos they have supplied for their live performances. 

Next is Great Expectations and after this we are asked for our participations for the beautiful Grounds For Divorce, which it seems the entire room do not have a problem with. To close this short and intimate set is Scattered Black and Whites and even though there are shouts for more, it is not be. 

The night is nowhere over yet, as the rest of the evening and in to the small hours is to be filled by DJ and AV sets by Yousef, Engi, Andy Williams (The Doves) and Graham Massey’s Sisters of Transistors. I have my fingers crossed for another music day next year that can top this one.

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