'A treat to behold, they make everywhere feel like home'
Andrew Trendell
13:19 11th February 2015

"This is a song about leaving our hometown," smiles Guy Garvey, introducing the subtle whisper of 'Any Day Now'. "That's something that we never did!"

While the boy has never left Manchester, Manchester has certainly never left him either. As Guy and co stroll on stage to a sea of beers held aloft, they may be in much humbler surroundings that their last London stop at The O2, but the humility is all theirs. 

Not only does the tonight set comprise of classics, but also fan favourites and rarer cuts from their earlier pre-Mercury days. But don't be mistaken - there is nothing self-indulgent about this evening. It's a treat to see Garvey with a guitar again, and the variety on show reflects the esoteric side to Elbow's everyman humanity - with every pregnant pause packed with howls of wild adoration, as well as the charm of Garvey's casual banter.

He could be filling an arena or stood by you in a pub urinal and his demeanour wouldn't change. 

"What did you say chicken?" he politely laughs back to one audience request, before referring to Apollo God Of Plague as a 'fat bastard'. It's a rare virtue, but Garvey weaves his wit and charm into every corner of the Apollo - so even those in the rafters feel embraced. 

It makes for the perfect companion to the familiar warmth of Elbow's sound. But in delivering a more varied set, the true contrast in the light and dark of this national treasure of a band is portrayed. For every open-armed charge of 'The Bones Of You' there's the sombre beauty of the waif-like 'Fugitive Motel', for every festival-ready pure celebration like 'The Take Off And Landing Of Everything' there's the eccentric Tex-Mex fiesta of 'Mexican Standoff' or the Portishead insomnia of 'Any Day Now'. 

This is best reflected after the arm-in-arm ecstasy of 'One Day Like This', Garvey sighs "now let's celebrate that wonderful moment of communion with a tale of trawling nightclubs in a predatory fashion," leading into the twisted post-rock brilliance of 'Bitten By The Tailfly'. 

Yes, there's a very good reason why Elbow reign as people's champions - it's because there's a song, a sound a comforting word for every occasion. Be it dealing with death on 'Newborn', finding meaning in old age on 'The Birds' or finding comfort in friends and booze on 'My Sad Captains'. This writer has no shame in admitting tears were  shed when invited to think back to the beauty of youth with those now lost on 'Lippy Kids'. 

Whether in The O2 or The Apollo, the Pyramid Stage or the pub, Elbow never had to flee the nest they make everywhere feel like home.

 
Photo: Shirlaine Forrest

Elbow played:
This Blue World
Any Day Now
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
Fugitive Motel
The Bones of You
Mexican Standoff
One Day Like This
Bitten by the Tailfly
Real Life (Angel)
Switching Off
The Birds
Lippy Kids
The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Newborn
Encore:
Grounds for Divorce
My Sad Captains