Colston Hall | March 31st
If an act has been around since the early 90’s and still performing then the audience will be populated with loyal followers and are less likely to show an interest in other bands playing than usual. This felt particularly tangible with warm up act Amber Arcades. They put in an admirable performance worthy of their profession but just didn’t manage to break the especially thick ice.
They had a fairly varied sound which seemed to rebound between bouncy indie and dirge-like walls of sound with intentionally lackadaisical vocal work; the type you’d expect from Sleepers Louise Wener. The demeanour wasn’t dissimilar either; you could easily bob your heads side to side in a Britpop fashion as the simple 60’s style guitar melodies cycled with increasing intensity reinforced by the rhythm guitar and drums. Although it was all executed with enthusiasm and finesse it lacked much distinctiveness and was drained by the poor reaction from the crowd. This was particularly evident at the end of the set where they unceremoniously departed the stage without saying good bye.
The projected video which preceded Grandaddy’s entrance had a justified grandiose to those there as the atmosphere became noticeably electric once they’d appeared on stage. They were a nicotine stained looking series of images, the first being of a train which looked like holiday footage filmed on a Super 8 in the 70’s. They immediately captivated the room carving out their blend of acoustic and electric guitars all accented with varying voices from the wizen sounding keyboard. Without Jason Lytle’s vocals however the combination just wouldn’t work. His fragile and somewhat other-worldly singing penetrates the great mass of drawn out slow stepping distortion and howling synths to present a vulnerability to the music and gives that personal connection which entices everyone into the experience.
Despite this fact, Grandaddy have an almost anti-front man feel to them. What I did notice as the first few songs resounded was that the lead vocals were quite low in the mix and Amber Arcades probably suffered from the same problem. But what I also noticed having not seen the Grandaddy before was how all encompassing they were compared to the albums I’ve listened to. It became clear that they don’t come close to representing the shear scale of the music which is utterly immersive in contrast to the LP’s which border on a little quaint at times.
The keyboard sound they chose for ‘A.M.180’ was very abrasive and slightly jarring but the crowd erupted into knowing the contagious melody. By this point in the set the standing section was swarming and hopping in abandonment. ‘He’s simple, he’s dumb, he’s the pilot’ was equally if not better received with them playfully teasing the intro with quite possibly deliberate ham fisted inaccuracy.
As they were nearing the end of the show they threw in the new single ‘Way We Won’t’ but maintained a soaring momentum. They’ve clearly lost none of their charm or skill since reforming and played with such a relaxed delivery whilst showing an enthusiasm and drive. Given how much the live performance adds to the music it is well worth the experience.
Check out ‘Way We Won’t’ below.