Live review: John Grant, King's Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 1 Feb
- Sean Greenhorn
- 4 February 2019
Fun, moving and utterly glorious mix of dirty gonzo electronica and triumphant ballads as part of Celtic Connections
John Grant is easy to love. Charismatic, witty and in possession of a spectacular voice, he is the rare performer that can have the audience grinning ear-to-ear, solemnly tearing up, or on their feet cutting shapes, sometimes in the very same song. As he stalks the front of the stage at Glasgow's King's Theatre, the audience want him to feel their love too, with frequent shouts of 'I love you John!'. Across his four solo albums, Grant has moved from winsome defiance to arch synth-pop, managing to never lose sight of who he is and what makes him so lovable.
The set opens with new track 'Tempest', which features Grant and his four-man band on various synthesisers. The first half of the show continues mostly in this vein, with the focus on the electronic numbers from Grant's newest album Love is Magic. These tracks, fun as they are on record, really come to life in this setting, with pounding drums, funky bass, the occasional keytar and best of all, some nifty dance moves from the man himself.
With the audience already fully won over, the latter part of the show is a reminder of just how many crowd-pleasing moments Grant has in his back catalogue. We are treated to the hauntingly beautiful 'Glacier', with its thunderous ending, the witty and defiant 'Sigourney Weaver', performed with the night's opening act Eric Pulido (of American folk-rock heroes Midlake), and the delightfully sweary 'GMF', requested from the audience.
The night is not even slowed down when a keyboard malfunctions early on, with Grant taking it in his stride and sitting down at the piano for a rare outing of early song 'TC and Honeybear'. That this haunting ballad comes in place of the gonzo electro of 'Metamorphosis' shows just how much of a triumph Grant's show is, with a fully enraptured audience ready to follow wherever he leads.