John Grant - He began and ended his set on vocals and piano. In between, one to four people assisted on the usual instruments. This was high quality singer-songwriter material. His voice was deep and evocative with resonance to spare. He apologized for his dark, depressing songs, but said they were laced with some black humor so he hoped it worked. It did from what I could pick out of the lyrics. And the presentation was excellent. As the set wore on, he did vary the tempo a bit and a couple songs even had some positive bounce to them. He should be able to garner a nice following with this slot on this tour.
Midlake - I saw these guys several years ago and enjoyed their set. They do have a cross to bear with me in that I did not find their previous album anywhere near as captivating as the critics did. But that can be said for dozens of other bands on those critics' lists as well. I did hear their new album and really enjoyed their switch into a Pentangle/Fairport Convention British folkrock style. Funny, the critics now are quite lukewarm on this approach. This is a genre which I am a major collector of (and I flew to London 2 years ago for the Pentangle reunion), so they are preaching to converted with me. What I find really interesting is not only that this band likes to change their style from album to album, but how seamlessly it works in the live set. The set began with what sounded like "Willow's Song" (from The Wicker Man--the original, of course dare you ask) but was an original of theirs. They then shifted into a more electric sound that was more of a locked in groove than a woven melody. Weaving did seem the theme as they played old and new and all sounded like Midlake and it all sounded quite good. A little smaller crowd than I expected tonight, but they were very enthusiastic and it was a very good night.
Quote of the Night: lyric fragment from the opener... "I casually mention that I pissed in your coffee"