John Grant | Live Review

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John Grant exists very much on a planet of his own, simply unrivalled.

Few musicians can bring a tear to someones eye and then have them dancing in the aisles moments later. John Grant however raises a multitude of emotions during his special visit to Colston Hall, backed by The Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Often the most cultured artists come from patches of trouble; and over his career, Grant has grappled with personal issues such as homophobia and addiction, subjects which leave a heavy thud amongst the sold out venues hearts. “Those who missed that first song, don’t worry, you didn’t miss much; just a load of anger and self-loathing”. He has always been a modest fellow, but considering the magnitude of set opener ‘You Don’t Have To’, there’s no hiding the fact we’re watching a genius.

The setlist winds its way from the delicate orchestral sounds of his earlier work through to the cutting electronica of latest album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’. The orchestra flows in one huge motion behind the large presence of a man, dressed formally in an all black suit. It’s impossible not to be hooked in, captivated, and quite honestly blown away by the sheer stage presence tonight. Songs such as ‘Marz’ and ‘Fireflies’ take the mind to entirely different places, almost leaving us in a state of delirium at times.

Clearly the dialect within Grant’s music came as a bit of a surprise to some of the mature audience. Every time the f-bomb was dropped, or the line about pissing in a partners coffee, a row of heads would turn in disbelief; although there’s no denying that’s one of the most engaging assets about this music, it feels like a perfect oxymoron at times.

“Mmm… I’d have a synthesiser solo on ma cornflakes if I could” Grant announces halfway through the set. Before mentioning he’s brought a special guest this evening, “it’s right here in my pocket”. He produces a small figurine of Sigourney Weaver and places it atop of the piano. There’s no doubting that we’re watching a man comfortable in front of the large crowd. Such flashes of humour give the evening balance and context, I could quite happily sit here for hours.

When things do come to an end though, we stand to applaud an evening of incredible musicianship, right now John Grant exists very much on a planet of his own, simply unrivalled.

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