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Elbow Shake The Roundhouse As Part Of The iTunes Festival

Returning to Camden’s Roundhouse for another dose of the 2014 iTunes Festival, we’re treated to an understated masterclass from Elbow.
Elbow photo

Along for the ride is Nick Mulvey, formerly of Subba-Cultcha faves Portico Quartet. While Nick’s recent songs are in a very different vein, their warmth and nuance proves breathtaking; partially inspired by his studies in ethnomusicology. Backed by a full band – featuring upright bass, drums, keys and ukulele - he’s on fantastic form, bridging folk, avant-garde and more traditional singer-songwriter fare with ease.

Not all of this crowd seem to agree, but you can’t win ‘em all as an opener. His debut album ‘First Mind’ is well worth a look, and we won’t be surprised if he ends up sneaking this year’s Mercury Prize.

Elbow seem to agree, leading the packed out venue in a chant of ‘Nick Mulvey should win the Mercury Prize’. Taking said gong helped propel Guy Garvey’s merry men into the stratosphere, back in 2008, and they haven’t looked back since. Nowadays a headline show at the Roundhouse counts as intimate: a string of Hammersmith Apollo and Manchester Apollo shows on the horizon, and the O2 in their rear-view mirror.

Elbow 2

Tonight they draw heavily on latest album ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’, channeling the pristine, widescreen melancholy that’s made them National Treasures (TM). Never the most immediate of bands, they wheel out the usual blend of love, loss and everyman charm, their performance polished to a T.

‘My Sad Captains’ prompts one of the most bittersweet singalongs we’ve ever heard, while ‘Grounds For Divorce’ sets the balcony shaking, its pub-friendly bombast all the more effective for its contrast.

Of course, ‘One Day Like This’ gets an airing, but there’s far more of Elbow than that one ubiquitous anthem (which a lot of folks are, understandably, tired of by now). While they mightn’t elicit the most frenzied responses, Guy Garvey and co tap into a sense of weather-worn decency that’s largely absent in contemporary music, and you can’t argue with the quality of their performance. Here’s to a triumph of the slow-burn.

Written by Rob Sayce Photo credits: iTunes Festival, London 2014      

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