What more is there to say about Elbow? Their story has been so well covered it has rendered itself redundant. There’s something so Hollywood, something hopelessly romantic about their rise to fame and fortune. Their long tête-à-tête with obscurity, the band that make it with their make or break album, the good will out, the nice guy finishing first for a change, this would all add up to a cheesy melodrama if it were not true. I guess this is what makes it all so endearing.

Though I love some of their back catalogue I find much of it dreary, and though everyone says Guy Garvey seems like a nice guy (and I’m not saying he’s not), how well do we really know him? Seeing him kicking around The Temple of Convenience and Big Hands on a regular basis gives the skewed impression that he’s a close friend for these two bars are the ones I always drink in with my best friends.

Both because of and despite all this I can’t help but feel that tonight is going to be something special. This is also my ten-year-old step son’s (Louis) first gig, so I’m hoping Elbow will do him proud…they do!

With events on at Exchange Squareand Bury, BBC Radio 2 and TV coverage, it feels like the whole of Manchester is out to watch their patron saints play their favourite city. Audience members look up besottedly at Garvey and the band. Everyone is just so happy to be here in this beautiful space. The Cathedral really is turning into one of the best music venues in Manchester.

They come on to a hero’s welcome (of course). ‘The Birds’ from Build A Rocket Boys opens things and I have to say it’s pretty dull. Louis distractedly turns to me and says, “I give them 25/100 so far”: bad start for the band, but from here the trajectory is astronomical. Witty, warm and humble, Guy Garvey is a charming compère.

Next, the slow, dreamy ‘Mirrorball’ echoes out and up into the medieval arches filling everyone with warmth. After a lot of meandering ‘Grounds For Divorce’ kicks in. Is there a better opening lyric to a song than, “I’ve been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce?” I hoist Louis onto my shoulder and he claps along animatedly to that killer guitar riff. From such a gentle band, that song remains as surprising as it did on first listen. Amazing! They’re up to 50/100.

‘The Night Will Always Win’ is absolutely beautiful. I’m starting to well up. Then the Hallé Youth Choir joins Elbow for an unbelievable rendition of ‘Lippy Kids.’ I stare up at Guy Garvey and he too has watery eyes and now I’m really fighting to hold back the tears (and believe me I do not cry much). It may sound like hyperbole, but this is probably the best thing I have ever seen live!!! If we did not know these are days are golden, we do now.

It’s Elbow’s 20th birthday today and after a quick toast and round of Happy Birthday’ we’re onto ‘Weather To Fly’. The U2-esque ‘Open Arms’ follows, and it’s another sublime moment. ‘One Day Like This’ could not be more apt, “Throws those curtains wide, one day like this a year will see me right.” Indeed!

That’s the end of it for the BBC, unless you press the red button, but “the show is far from over” as Garvey mock-sinisterly hints – well, Garvey can’t really do sinister. ‘Some Riots’ is one of my very favourite Elbow songs, largely because it showcases Guy’s remarkable lyricism – the one aspect of his personality that does not get enough credit. “The booze turns a tall gentle boy to a terrible totem…beautiful, quivering, shivering shambles.” Have lyrics ever charted the demise of a friend with more compassion and weight?

‘Tower Crane Driver’ contains that brilliant moment two thirds in when it just take off spectacularly in a way that only Elbow can do…

Unfortunately, we have to leave now. The boy was up early and he’s getting tired. “80-85/100 I give it,” he says. Good stuff, but a little harsh. I’ve been to a lot of gigs, and this is one of the very best. There was so much good will and love in the air, and yes, Elbow’s story and Guy Garvey personally might seem too good to be true, but believe it! Sometimes reality and Hollywood do collide, and sometime the good really does out (Hollywood 1 – Reality 1,000,000).

Several days on and I’m reliving it over and over. “Throw those curtains wide, another day like this a year will see me right.”

Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...