Review: Elbow, at the NIA, Birmingham

Despite coming up from the noisy, messy indie scene of the late 90s, Elbow are quite a conventional (even middle of the road) live act.

The Mercury Prize-winning Manchester band focus on melodic anthemic choruses and repeatedly engage the NIA crowd in mass singalongs - at one point they even invite a young girl from the audience up on stage.

A band like this, in venues the size of this, stands or falls on the charisma of its frontman.

Luckily, in this case, it’s Guy Garvey. He doesn’t look like your average pop star - portly, bearded and in a scruffed-up suit, he appears more like Henry VIII out on a Christmas works do.

But the cheery singer-turned-radio presenter works the NIA crowd like a seasoned performer, and builds up a great, friendly atmosphere in such a cavernous space.

They’ve quickly got used to playing arenas. Elbow can do loud, as they showed on a storming Grounds For Divorce, where the giant video screens and flashing turned them - just for a few minutes – into U2.

But they do quietly epic better, as they showed on the beautifully soulful Fugitive Motel, Mirrorball and a touching Build A Rocket, Boys!.

And the inevitable singalong finale, One Day Like This, left such a warm feeling that - even on a freezing November night - the crowd could have walked home in their shirt sleeves.