Tuesday, 1 June 2010

474 GRANDADDY, Lowgold, Elbow, London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Thursday 30 November 2000

Took the coach up for this one! Given recent road experiences I was concerned that waiting for a lift from Ady might mean missing support Lowgold, so Rachel and I took an early afternoon coach up the Smoke, leaving time for shopping in Camden and food before hitting the venue at 7.30. Elbow were playing some plodding miserablist nonsense early doors; look guys, it's been done before by RadioMuseTravisPlay72 and it's not haunting, ethereal or anything like that, it's just dull. And as for the vocalist; well, if you're a 6 foot 3, 18 stone Manc, why on earth are you trying to sing like Aled Jones? One Thom Yorke and his miserable current work is enough, f'rchrissakes - sing with your own voice!

Luckily we had Lowgold next up to show Elbow how to be new and original, and still moody. Influences less obvious here - the wide open lazy melody of Teenage Fanclub, Kent's haunting wistfulness, even some Buffalo Tom edginess, but toned down to an undercurrent - but overall, Lowgold were, well, Lowgold. Finally, another young British band with good tunes, heart, vision and potential. Seafood were beginning to get lonely! Suffice to say, I liked this lot a great deal, getting a set-list and thumbs-up from the bassist in the process. Worth the coach trip - which proved unnecessary, as Ady showed up before their set started anyway!

Well, onto Grandaddy. We had a good, stage right, view throughout, as the lights dimmed at 9.15, the appointed hour, the sold out crowd cheered, the intro music started... and on strode 5 guys dressed in animal suits! A chimp, a bear, a lion, a tiger, and some sort of wolf thingy, who took up instruments... then promptly took them off as the band themselves came onstage! Bizarre start! Grandaddy then eased themselves into their set with "Levitz" before "Chartsengrafs", a chunky chuntering slice of feelgood noise, kicked things into gear. "This is the biggest place we've ever played in!" stammered a slightly incredulous vocalist Jason Lytle, and you got the impression somewhere smaller might've honestly been more comfortable for him. That said, the 'Dad didn't let the occasion - or the presence of one or more of the "animals" strolling nonchalantly and intermittently across the stage - overwhelm them, and they played a fine set of their slightly frazzled, bouncy yet countrified, exciting yet slow-burning and ethereal, US pop. The drawn-out anguish of "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot" contrasted with the jumpy melody of "AM 180", the plangent magnificence of "The Crystal Lake" and the almost punky rush through "Summer Here Kids". Yet all 4 corners of Grandaddy made a goofy kind of sense, and contributed to a bubbling and splendid whole.

Off on the hour, then they returned for 2 songs, neither of which was new CD highlight "Broken Household Appliance National Forest", which disappointed somewhat. Nevertheless, I grabbed a set-list very easily, after a fine show from a band finally receiving some deserved plaudits and success. Long may they shamble! And well done to Ady as well, as his pedal-to-the-metal drive home got us back to Swindon at a shade past midnight!

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