Monday, May 12, 2014

Elbow - John Grant -- 9:30 Club - May 11 2014

John Grant - The last time I saw this unique talent, was when he opened for Midlake. I believe I was in a majority of people there that night who didn't know much about him, but left impressed. Tonight, those who don't know John Grant are still here, but a majority of this sell-out crowd now knows of Grant's extraordinary songs with his twisted and darkly funny bleak outlook on life. He is huge in Europe, and in fact now lives in Iceland, but he's happy to be back in the states on this tour. It takes a rare artist to make these uncomfortable lyrics so warm and pleasurable, although with his voice, people would pay to see him sing the phonebook. But his lyrics are also powerful enough to stand alone on the page. So combining that with his keyboards and guest guitarist makes for a powerful 37 minute set. If you enjoy the Scott Walker-Jacques Brel style or the modern sounds of Nick Cave, Bill Callahan or Will Oldham, you should also be a major John Grant fan. Even these comparisons only point in the general direction, as John Grant is a one of a kind talent who makes a commanding presence in such a quiet way.

Elbow - This long running band from England has a strong fan base with Guy Garvey's vocals being the star of their sound. I was a bit too mentally exhausted to stick around for the full set, but I am sure their fans continued to enjoy it based on the reactions to the handful of early songs I heard. Musically it was a little light and keyboard oriented, but with some instrument switching, the band cooked up some interesting rhythms and had some intriguing blasts of sound surrounding the vocals. Again, not much I can say other than the crowd was so enthusiastic early on, it seems safe to assume they went home happy from both sets of music tonight.

Quote of the night: John Grant... "This song is about the move from Michigan to Colorado and the difficulty of mastering a British accent."


Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn't stick around for the show. As usual, Elbow was tremendous. Their music was anything but "light," displaying the restrained power and elegance that is their trademark. Elbow kept building grooves on the interplay between Craig Potter's keyboards, Guy Garvey's great voice and Pete Turner's bass, and the precise timekeeping of Richard Jupp, while Craig's brother Mark dropped in tasteful guitar licks, without the showy, "look at me" histrionics that mar so many bands. they known. their song selection was moving and uplifting, and even neophytes in the crowd were singing along to "Grounds for Divorce," and "One Day Like This." But the reviewer clearly wasn't talking to anyone that was near the right bar on the floor while Grant played. Because dozens of people ran like lemmings from his grim, depressing, monotonous droning, ready to impale ourselves on hari- kari blades as he wove the bleakest songs I've heard since the goth/industrial revolution of the early 90's. Not only was Grant not entertaining, but people scattered in droves at the onslaught of misery he evoked and waited outside until he had emptied his spleen and departed from the stage. Elbow should be cautioned to dump him back in Iceland as soon as possible. All of our group wished we had stayed at Duffy's until 9, and thereby managed to miss his act completely. Best line of the night: about 3 songs into Grant's set, someone yelled out "Cheery bloke, aren't ya?" to more laughter and applause than Grant received for the duration of his act.

David Hintz said...

Thanks, I was hoping someone would fill in on the Elbow set. Like I wrote, there were some flashes of creativity in just the few songs I saw. And no, I was in the back at a safe distance. Yes, that line was good--he usually gets that sort of thing, but the applause at set's end was significant. If he disturbed some people, then I think he was pretty effective. Thanks again for checking in and providing some real insight and not just yelling at me for leaving early (I'm older and health and busy schedules play a part in this).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is a better critic than the critic? Who goes to a show to write a review and not stay??

David Hintz said...

I go to shows and don't stay, particularly when ill or have some sort of physical issue. Anonymous is a better fan and might even be a better critic. And I really don't call myself a critic anyway, but that's a minor point. When either of you get to your 900th show in six years, you let me know about attending every minute. Feel free to read all my reviews and note how many sets from opening act to headliner I write about. Or not.