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."