John Grant really loves his audience and judging by the crowd of his second sold out show of a two night stint in Dublin’s Vicar Street, the feeling is mutual. Delving straight into two tracks from his new album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, it is not long before he’s telling us just how much.
This new album might lack the consistency of quality in the tracks of its predecessors but those that he choses to play live are no doubt the strongest ones. This combined with Grant’s charisma and the addition of a four piece band and three backing singers – “a bunch of bad asses” according to John – means that there’s a new dimension added to the songs when performed live. This lends itself particularly well when he’s in upbeat mode with the likes of new tracks ‘Snug Slacks’, ‘You and Him’ and ‘Guess How I Know’ which showcase Grant’s penchant for the rockier synth side of his talents.
In truth the whole set was hugely varied – often juxtaposing between those rocky synth pop numbers and deep techno beats into the softer piano driven moments of ‘Marz’, ‘Where Dreams Go to Die’ and ‘Glacier’. It’s on these latter songs that the deep, captivating nature of his voice is highlighted. One could hear a pin drop during ‘Glacier’ and while it didn’t have the spine tingling addition of Sinead O’Connor and Conor O’Brien as per his previous visit to Dublin, it still held up as one of the highlights of a diverse show and one where Grant seemed to sit and quietly reflect towards the end of the song when his backing singers and pianist took the song to it’s end.
Grant really does enjoy his own music which is really quite fun to watch especially when he’s playing with the crowd during a rousing rendition of ‘Queen of Denmark’ from his debut solo album, interspersing the song with a little dirty Icelandic banter – in a nod to his newly adopted home – expressing just how much he’s enjoying the song.
The set ended with an impressive combination of the crowd pleasing ‘GMF’ and new album highlight ‘Disappointing’. All was not over though as he quickly returned to the stage for generous five song encore. Slowing it down with mix new and old tracks (even including the old Czars number ‘Drug’). It was a lovely way to finish a very enjoyable show.
Grant displays the ability to jump through a variety of very different song styles which are tied together with the wit, lyricism and a voice that would mend a thousand souls… or make you dance your ass off – either way, you’re leaving having had a very, very good time. Rachel Earley
Photo by Aine O’Hara