Elbow, iTunes Festival, review: Ultimate British comfort band add familiar warmth to corporate affair

The band headlined the month-long Apple iTunes Festival on 12 September

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The Independent Culture

“But you can’t be sad at an Elbow gig,” one onlooker shouts into the ear of the girl next to her. “He’s a big, Lancastrian hug poet. It’s like watching a human cuddle.”

Her description of Guy Garvey – the effortless frontman of Britain’s ultimate comfort band – couldn’t be more apt as Elbow take to the iTunes Festival stage.

Kicking off with a mini-orchestral flourish, they gently ease into a set dominated by material from their 2014 album “The Take Off and Landing of Everything”, but peppered with just enough of the familiar to maintain the gently swaying throng of fans throughout.

Stand-out tracks include a glittering rendition of “The Birds”, stadium rock anthem “Grounds For Divorce”, which is not-so-subliminally interspersed with the lyrics “Nick Mulvey [Elbow’s supporting act] should win the Mercury Prize”, plus a particularly emotive performance of “Lippy Kids” during a two-track encore.

They end as only Elbow can, with the hazy nostalgia of “One Day Like This”, belted out with the full vocal force of the crowd behind them. And as ever, they leave in their wake an almost tangible sense of warmth in what, perhaps unfairly, is often branded a cold and corporate 30-day affair.