Grandaddy – EXCLUSIVE First Review and Photos

Confirmed to play Glastonbury, one of VF's favourite acts plays an intimate show in west London, mixing old and new songs in front of an invited audience.

[l-zone1]With the amount of electronic apparatus precariously piled up in front of singer Jason Lytle, one wrong breath could have the whole lot piled up on the floor. It’s been some two years since Grandaddy last came out of hibernation to play live here, and with the beards and baseball caps still in place, a style change for their new season seems unlikely. Hunched over his boxes and desperately knob-twiddling, while attempting to play guitar and keyboard at once, Lytle‘s voice remains the sweet, fragile emblem of heartbreak. Grandaddy remain one of the music’s best kept secrets. Explaining the lack of new material in tonight’s set, he apologetically whispers, ‘We don’t know how to play them’

[r-zone3]For the uninitiated, Grandaddy are a collective of redneck looking chaps from Canada who’s pop tinged grungy folk combines the romantic grace of Neil Young with the melodic weirdness of Bowie, across songs about alcoholic robots and deserted futurescapes. There always remains the chaotic possibility that live, it could all fall apart, but unlike dross like The Libertines, this music is crafted that way. Grandaddy always try to do more than is possible, and fragile like all beauty, they’re on the right side of the line between genius and failure.

[l-zone4]Tonight’s brief forty minute set is played out in front of an invited audience of some 300 fans and industry, including members of Coldplay and Elbow, as well as ex-Blur man, Graham Coxon. They start with one of the ‘radio hits’ from their last LP, The Sophtware Slump, ‘Hewlett’s Daughter’. It warms things up nicely for the first of two new tracks, ‘Yeah Is What We Had‘. Quite pacey and typically poignant, its sugar coated with much of the sweet, love-lost sincerity that makes you melt away to Grandaddy.

[r-zone2]Older tracks like ‘Beautiful Ground’ remain timeless, whilst the epic and wondrous ‘Miner At The Dial-A-View’ keeps them at the top of the mountain for ‘band most likely to make you cry’ at Glastonbury this year. ‘AM 180’ is the nearest they have to an anthem, but with the rapturous reception that new single ‘Now It’s On‘ (out in May from the new LP, ‘Sumday’) receives, this could soon change. Heavier than much of their material, they play it solely on guitars, though it retains a spine chilling beauty which keeps Grandaddy so left of the field they positively remain on another planet.

[l-zone5]Ending with ‘The Crystal Lake’ we are given a timely reminder that it is the unassuming and timeless acts that will be remembered beyond their time. The music press might argue that case differently, but the point is that Grandaddy aren’t built upon any fragile fashion mag fad, exchanging rock n roll posturing for reserved and enduring musical beauty. With those virtues in mind, their cards are stacked more securely than anyone’s.

Words/Photos: Andrew Future

Grandaddy are confirmed to play Glastonbury. They release new LP ‘Sumday’ on June 9 preceded by ‘Now It’s On’ on May 26.

Setlist:

Hewlett’s Daughter
Yeah Is What We Had
Levitz
Beautiful Ground
Miner At The Dial-A-View
AM 180
Now It’s On
First Moment
The Crystal Lake

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