...a unity of eyes and firelight...

John Grant

In Live Reviews, Music on April 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thursday 24 March, 2011

Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

Before arriving, I had been describing John Grant to my girlfriend by comparing him to a 60s folk sound similar to Neil Young, mixed with a more modern operatic pop sound similar to Rufus Wainwright. Seeing him live, I failed to see where I got the Neil Young comparison from. He seemed more akin to the big piano sound of Elton John. (Big piano. Cameron’s inflections have crept into my speech.)

The first half of the set was him singing and playing either piano or synth, while another guy played whichever he wasn’t playing. This was good, but then the other guy left. Despite his incredible voice, I then began to lose interest.

His ideas of tunecraft varied very little, and the impressiveness of his voice could not disguise this. Like Aidan John Moffat a couple of weeks ago, most of his songs were love songs in the sense that they were about love, and most of them were self-consciously downbeat.

But unlike Moffat, his tone and his lyrics exuded a self-pity to which I could not relate. There was something more American about him, more flamboyantly needy, more Blanche Dubois, whereas I preferred Moffat’s unlovely rawness. His Glaswegian drunk to Grant’s Southern Belle.

Big society. Big piano. Big society. Big piano. Big society. Big piano.


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