Elbow, Bat For Lashes @ iTunes Festival, Camden 07/09/2012 | Gigwise

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by Michael Holder

Tags: Elbow, Bat For Lashes

Elbow, Bat For Lashes @ iTunes Festival, Camden 07/09/2012

Performances are joyously received at the Roundhouse

 

Elbow, Bat For Lashes @ iTunes Festival, Camden 07/09/2012

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Following the ongoing success of 'One Day Like this' and their recent BBC Olympics theme song 'First Steps', Elbow are fairly swiftly ascending to national treasure status.

Everyone, it seems, quite likes Elbow, but the position the band now find themselves in hasn't come without hard work over the 20-odd years they've been playing together. After being dropped by their record company before even releasing their debut, that Elbow then managed to carve out a career spanning five albums is testament to this. Their steadily rising popularity since perhaps - along with frontman Guy Garvey's everyman demeanor and northern charm - the result of a public perception that, well, they deserve it.

But before the band arrive on stage to celebrate their summer's successes with fans, Bat For Lashes stake a strong claim for being worthy of a similar level of appreciation in future. Natasha Khan would certainly deserve it, too, having missed out on a Mercury Prize win for her 2007 debut 'Fur and Gold' to the Klaxons and won an Ivor Novello for her 2008 single 'Daniel'.

But tonight sees a different and far more relaxed Khan than in the past. Gone are the native indian-inspired headdresses and all-female band, Khan instead sporting shorter hair and a simpler, all-male band set-up. And having spent the preceding four years since the success of second album 'Two Suns' suffering with writers' block and almost giving up music entirely to become a nursery teacher, what's most noticeable about Natasha Khan's performance tonight is how much she appears to be enjoying herself.

Older tracks such as 'The Wizard' and 'Glass' are performed with more abandon and sound even better for it, Khan clearly pleased to be back performing after so long away. It is the new songs, though, that are most exciting tonight - Khan managing to flit between the beautiful, piano-led new single 'Laura' and the euphoric, poppy 'Oh Yeah' with ease. Indeed, judging by tonights offerings, Khan's forthcoming third LP 'The Haunted Man' could well be her most successful yet. So, bounding off stage as closer 'Daniel' fades out, Khan must be as pleased as the audience that her CRB check came through too late to teach the summer term at nursery school the other year instead of returning to music.

Half an hour later, pints are raised in unison among both crowd and band, with Garvey saluting the audience in trademark fashion before launching into a set littered with crowd-favourites - 'Leaders of the Free World', 'Lippy Kids' and 'Weather To Fly' all being sung straight back at the band from the floor of the packed Roundhouse.

Elbow's live show is now an effortless tour de force of professionalism and charm, honed over many years on the festival circuit that has helped make their name. But while the band are so at ease on stage showcasing their often excellent songwriting, tonight's highlight 'Grounds For Divorce' exemplifies what is missing from the the rest of Elbow's set - the song's big, meaty riffs lending the band an edge sorely lacking elsewhere.

'The Birds' and 'Station Approach' are the points at which the set sags most and feels a little samey, neither song quite managing to grab the audience by the heart nor throat. But as predictable as the evening's finale of 'One Day Like This' is, it's still a weapon that holds power over almost any crowd, a fact that Elbow are only too aware of. As the irresistable coda prompts yet another sing along, it becomes difficult to begrudge them for the more forgettable moments of the preceding set - Elbow, you feel, deserve the kind of universal appreciation they are continuing to receive.

 

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