Review: Elbow at the iTunes Festival, Roundhouse

The Manchester five-piece follow up Olympic closing ceremony appearance with enjoyable Roundhouse gig

�By the time I’d made it into the Roundhouse’s main hall, Elbow had already taken to the stage and were halfway through set opener High Ideals from last year’s Build a Rocket Boys!

Swaying enthusiastically over a piano at the centre of the stage, with shaker in hand, frontman Guy Garvey was clearly enjoying the intimate iTunes Festival experience.

To look at Garvey, his baggy white shirt untucked and billowing over a rather sizeable gut, you’d think he was more suited behind a bar in any one of Camden’s multitude of boozers.

But beyond the pub landlord-like exterior is a hugely talented musician with one of the purest voices in the business.


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Backed by a sumptuous brass and string section for the night, Garvey and his four bandmates seemed to saunter through the evening with effortless class.

At times, the Roundhouse felt like some sort of enchanting orchestral-backed observatory, with a delightful array of spotted lights flowing around its circular interior.

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Beneath this celestial swirl, the Manchester five-piece punctured the atmosphere with a thunderous performance of Grounds for Divorce, which saw Garvey pounding his very own pair of drums, sparking a frenzied reaction from the sea of bodies below.

As the encore neared, there was still time for another outing from last year’s Build a Rocket Boys! with the album’s second single Open Arms well-received by a grateful iTunes mob.

However the best was left until last and the album which made them, as the band rounded off a thoroughly good night’s work with the anthemic One Day Like This from 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid.

It might not have compared to Stratford and the career apex of closing London’s Olympic Games, but with every mouth in the Roundhouse bellowing their song back at them, Garvey and the gang were certainly enjoying themselves.

* Elbow played the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1, on Friday September 7.

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