Review: John Grant at Celtic Connections – King’s Theatre, Glasgow – Feb 1st, 2019

Support was by E.B. the Younger – the moniker of Midlake vocalist Eric Pulido, soon to release his solo debut. Now THERE’S the connection – John, of course, working with Midlake for his Queen Of Denmark debut.

Eric was joined on stage by keyboardist Dan. The pair of them have great vocal harmonies. He performed songs from his new album set for release in early March.

His music is quite easy going and he established a good rapport with the audience and was even piggybacked off stage by Dan at the end of the set. I look forward to seeing him again on Thursday night.

The stage crew set to work very quickly to get things set up for John. Only a short break was endured before he arrived on stage with regular, established band members, including the incomparable Budgie on drums. The more I watch him, the more I fall in love with his style and realise what a truly incredible drummer he is.

All was flowing well. I have to confess, once inside the King’s, it did seem a little strange a venue for what is essentially a rock gig but the crowd were into it and we were enjoying ourselves.

About the fifth song in they started to play album opener, Metamorphosis, and there was a technical problem. The song was halted, crew rushed on stage to sort it out, and while the problem was being rectified, John sat is his still fully functioning (and unaffected by the fault) keyboard to perform TC And Honeybear – which is just the most stunning and beautiful song. I wasn’t expecting him to perform too many of his older tunes, so it was a real treat. Was almost thankful for the technical hiccup!

By the time TC And Honeybear was through, the problem had been sorted and off we went with Metamorphosis again.

Others in the set included Preppy Boy, Smug Cunt, He’s Got His Mother’s Hips, Tempest, Love Is Magic, Is He Strange, Touch And Go – pretty much the whole album bar The Common Snipe (at least I think he did Diet Gum as well).

Those in the set not on Love Is Magic performed were Grey Tickles-Black Pressure, Pale Green Ghosts, Global Warming, Queen Of Denmark, JC Hates Faggots, Sensitive New Age Guy, GMF, Black Belt, Glacier, Fireflies, Caramel and Sigourney Weaver.

The surprise…or perhaps disappointment…of the night was that he DIDN’T perform Marz! I was okay with that, but I’m sure other fans would have been disappointed. If they were, it didn’t show in the crowd’s reception. Standing ovations towards the end of the set and after every song performed as an encore.

The crowd loved it. You could feel it. And apart from the technical fault at the start of Metamorphosis, the acoustics and sound levels were great.

I get taken to another place at a JG gig. I just lose myself, esp. on the more emotional tracks. Glacier was beautiful and epic, as was Queen Of Denmark. And…Budgie has me in awe. I love that man!

Top class, as always. I don’t think JG could ever do a shit gig. Well, I’ve never seen one.

Bring on Thursday and Cambridge!

Join The Q For John

The latest issue of Q Magazine has an interview with John Grant in it. Just around a week to go for my two gigs – next Monday in Brighton, then Wednesday in Bath. A birthday in Bath! Very nice! Looking forward to it. Hope I can shake off this cold I am getting though…

Anyway…the interview…

Love Is Magic – John Grant (Review-ish)

I’ve not bought the album yet and had my first listen to it proper on Spotify last night. This won’t be a strict review, just a general mulling over of my first impressions.

I was already familiar with three tracks, the title track, He’s Got His Mother’s Hips and Is He Strange.

At last week’s talk about the album, John said his favourite track was Metamorphosis so I was intrigued to hear it. He seemed to suggest others thought it an unusual album opener. I don’t have any judgement on that…no experience of setting tracklists so I wouldn’t know. It certainly feels like a juxtaposing “two songs in one” affair, with those almost “stream of consciousness” verses jarring against that middle refrain. I like the way it works.

The title track took a while to grow on me. The thing I am loving, along with the overall assult of synths, is the drum sounds coming from Budgie. I may have this info wrong – I can’t double check it, but I am going to assume he plays drums on some tracks. I can’t find personnel info about the record. Budgie really does have a style of playing I like. He’s certainly going to be playing with John live, so I’m looking forward to that.

Tempest I think may just about be my fave track on the album. There’s a kind of simplicity to it I like. There’s not so much an assult to the senses going on…which makes it seem more epic…contradictorily.

Preppy Boy’s fun.

Smug Cunt…well, the title sounds kinda Carry On…but once you get past the sniggering of him using the most explosive of expletives…it really is a rather cutting and vitriolic track. Smug Cunt is NOT meant to be taken lightly. Not by how it sounds to my ears anyway.

He’s Got His Mother’s Hips on the other hand is pure funkadelic Grant. Diet Gum continues that sarcastic playfulness he’s so good at.

Is He Strange sounds like it could have been off Pale Green Ghosts, really. A proper ballad, and possibly the most “synth light” song on the album as he has actually reverted back to piano for it. On first listen with the track, I liked it to begin with and then the track just lost me about half way through. It kind of just…meanders. I dunno.

The Common Snipe…well, any song that is referencing birds is going to reel me in.

Touch And Go I have little recollection of, to be honest. I can’t really make any comment on that.

Overall…I’m liking it. I had seen some not favourable reviews of it…but equally some very good ones. It’s dividing opinion.

On first listen…I don’t think the album is as strong, lyrically, as previous albums have been.

And I said this wasn’t going to be a review? Lol. Well, it has kind of ended up one. But it’s all down to personal taste. And that is the absolute beauty of music streaming services now. You can listen to things, check them out before you decide to commit or not.

At the moment, I think I’ll be buying the album. It works as a cohesive unit. It can be jarring at times, sonically…but I like that. I like to feel on guard. It does fall away at the end for me though…well, upon first listen anyway.

I’m gonna give it a few more listens and come back to this…what is now a review and see how things change, or IF they change.

I shall leave you with track three, Tempest…

 

John Grant’s Got Attitude!

Yet to read it myself, but there’s an interview with John Grant in this month’s Attitude magazine.

New Tunes From John Grant!

 

Two new tracks from the forthcoming album, Love Is Magic are available to listen to on YouTube today. Touch & Go has great harmonies and that Carpenters sensitivity. He’s Got His Mother’s Hips is that fantastic not-taking-it-too-seriously/electrofunk stuff he does. Playfully sexy AF. I LOVE IT!

Touch & Go will grow on me – HGHMH – instantly hooked!