Concert: John Grant at the National Concert Hall

I was delighted. Since my first live John Grant gig last year, I had also witnessed Sinead O’Connor’s version of his song ‘Queen of Denmark’ as the opener for her comeback gig in Vicar Street. That was mesmerising. My nerves were a-jangle. I scoured my email every day for the past week, worried that the gig would be cancelled. It went ahead however, and somehow I had acquired third row seats. The National Concert Hall is quite a large theatre, with a capacity of 1500. To get so close to the stage was a first for me. On my previous excursions to the NCH (to see Rufus Wainwright and kd lang) I had been seated in the balcony.

During the lockdown Grant had written. recorded and released a new album ‘Boy from Michigan’ from his home in Reykjavik. This meant the setlist would differ from that planned for the original show. The show featured five songs from this album – the title track and the unusual ‘Rhetorical Figure’ being particularly impressive.

Grant’s music sound very operatic to my ear, grand, expansive and imposing, with a booming voice and charismatic stage presence. He sings of loss and despair in a searingly honest way, not sparing himself. I know that it shouldn’t be noteworthy in 2021 but it’s still thrilling (and unusual) to hear a man sing a love song directed to another man.

He played all his big numbers – ‘GMF’; ‘Queen of Denmark; ‘Glacier’; ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ and ‘TC and honeybear’. The love in the room was palpable.

It may have been eighteen months since I was meant to see him, but all good things to those who wait. Perhaps I should time my next return journey to Amsterdam to see his rescheduled show, next June?

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