AS ONE might expect from his regular presenter gig on BBC 6 Music, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey is one of the most charming and reassuring stage presences in pop, lovingly invested in his band’s performance but also continually checking his audience are bobbing along quite happily, like a concerned, hospitable auntie handing round the tea and biscuits. He can turn even the most low-key song, of which Elbow have many, into a participatory event. On the first of two sold-out nights at the Usher Hall, he even had encouraging words about the venue’s “ennobling” ceiling.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh ***
Elbow’s music is similarly comforting, a cosy opiate in times of uncertainty, tinged with the empathetic melancholy which Garvey’s careworn voice inevitably brings to the likes of My Sad Captains, a resolutely non-boozy paean to getting drunk with your closest friends. There were uplifting interludes too, none more so than their calm anthem One Day Like This.
Even the departure of drummer Richard Jupp, breaking the stable line-up for the first time in a quarter of a century, has failed to discernibly rock the good ship Elbow, as the four remaining original members delivered the appropriately titled Gentle Storm with multi-instrumentalist Craig Potter deputising on stand-up kit.
Support act C Duncan does not yet possess those galvanising skills but roll on the day when he can headline a hall like this in his own right – his gorgeous choral indie pop sounded ravishing in this acoustic, if a little apologetically presented.