In their commentary on the DVD of The Seldom Seen Kid Live at Abbey Road, Elbow’s Guy Garvey introduces The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver:
When we wrote this tune there was five of us stood round in the room directly underneath where we’re recording this voiceover in Salford at Blueprint studios, with very very little equipment. But we were we imagining an orchestra and we did our best on the recording to make it sound like an orchestra. But to hear an orchestra actually doing it was pretty special.
Before everyone went gaga for One Day Like This, when I used to listen to The Seldom Seen Kid there was always one song that would stop me in my tracks, every time. And it wasn’t One Day Like This, which at first I wasn’t even all that keen on, and which seemed a bit too choppy to fall in love with. …Tower Crane Driver, on the other hand, was always the mesmeric centre around which the rest of the album revolved. Even without an orchestra, even with the band just imagining the orchestra, and then trying to somehow recreate the sound and the essence of strings, woodwind, percussion, in their ill-equipped studio - even then, this slow-burning fire, this song waltzing gently along, the sadness in Garvey’s voice: all pieces carefully and deliberately placed so that when the swell comes it’s more than worth the wait.
With The BBC Concert Orchestra, and with Chantage providing choral backing, that same moment is impossibly amplified; you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, and you can’t help doing one or the other, or possibly both. Pretty special.