iTunes Festival 2014: Elbow at Roundhouse
A cross-section of a band’s fanbase can sometimes be a good indicator of the genre they generally belong in and the kind of sound they’ll produce. Tonight at a packed out Roundhouse in Camden the floor and stalls are jammed with mainly white middle-aged jumper-wearing gentleman eagerly anticipating the arrival of their orchestral rock heroes. We infiltrated the upper tier of the stalls to investigate if the band could impress beyond their seemingly vanilla image and blow the cashmeres off their audience.
Before a string can even be strummed it has to be noted how outstandingly glorious the Roundhouse looks; it has the grandiose ambience of the Globe theatre but the mesmerising light FX and displays of a Ridley Scott designed UFO. The stage is therefore perfectly set as the band step out – orchestra included – and launch into their opening track Charge, however there is a slight sense of anti-climax as the atmosphere falls flat without a raucously upbeat tune. The orchestral side of the band is clearly the most strikingly impressive as it conjures up a rich sound that does its best to complement the vocals and give the band their iconic Elbow stamp.
Whilst the guitar and orchestra tracks, such as Grounds for Divorce pack a powerful punch in the live arena the slower songs like New York Morning come across as laboured and struggle to hold the attention of the seemingly nonplussed crowd. The dwindling atmosphere during the more mellow parts of the set were not helped by Garvey’s lack of live charisma. He comes across as a bit of an uncle singing karaoke at wedding, sometimes awkwardly asking the crowd for interaction. Vocally the performance was good but rarely rises above that standard as Garvey repeatedly asked for his mic to be turned up through the set.
The climax anthem One Day Like This attempts to patch over the cracks of the wishy-washy set and does sound gloriously joyous in the spectacle arena, bringing everyone to their feet and singing the notoriously inspirational chorus. However despite the finale track adding a proverbial cherry the cake itself is patchy at best. Considering the amazingly set stage and usage of such an impressive array of instrumentalists Elbow are extraordinarily ordinary.
For further information about Elbow and future events visit here.
* This article was amended on 17th September to correct a sentence that stated that the opening song was The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver. This was due to an incorrect report on setlist.fm that was later amended.