John Grant at Rough Trade East
Over the past few years, together with Midlake, John Grant has been the biggest name in the new American folk rock movement, yet he has always been in some way bound to the indie scene. Today we see a mature professional who has now became an icon of the contemporary world folk scene.
Having just won the prestigious Rough Trade Album of the Year 2013, tonight, before around 70 people, Grant performs a touching show at Rough Trade East. In an almost religious silence, the audience listen to his inspiring and sad songs about failure, disease and default. The depth of the lyrics about homophobia (Jesus Hates Faggots), hunger (I Want to Go to Marz), depression (Queen of Denmark) and now HIV (Ernest Borgnine), are like a stab to the stomach.
Together with five other musicians – a pianist, drummer, guitarist, bassist and a sound engineer at the laptop – Grant at the piano performs six songs from his latest album Pale Green Ghost, plus Where the Dreams Go to Die from his previous masterpiece Queen of Denmark.
His music is still classic American folk rock with a 70s and 80s approach in terms of arrangements and stylistic choices, as heard in the sequencer on Pale Green Ghost, the electric guitar used in GMF, and the use of split voices in several songs. Onstage his music turns into something absolutely personal and moving.
The best moment of the night is when Grant with his rich voice sings “I am the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet”, reminding us of his great quality that cuts him above the average, formally a sharp irony. Irony in fact is the best way to deal with misfortune, and Grant is full of both.
For further information and future events visit John Grant’s website here.
Watch the video for GMF here: