Thursday, August 30, 2012

GRANDADDY @ THE RITZ 29 August 2012

Reunion gigs. Never a good idea. And so the unwritten rule is avoid them. Remember how much hand-wringing I went through at Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 night
and that wasn't even a reunion. So when Grandaddy announced earlier this year they were reforming for a short tour, even though I'd never seen them live first time round, I thought good on you to get a bit of adulation and cash - but it's not for me. Even if one of only four UK gigs was in Manchester. Remember the rule.

So I gladly ignored the tour despite writing a few words as a preview elsewhere. Until earlier today when I got offered a ticket to tonight's sold-out gig. Principles and The Rule be damned.

A Randy Newman-esque 'welcome back' show tune presaged the band taking the stage. The affection from the crowd was palpable even delirious but the demeanour of the five band members was a little cooler. There was no back-slapping camaraderie here – chilled Californians and ex-professional skateboarders remember - and other than referencing Manchester and asking for requests, Jason Lytle’s stage banter barely expanded from ‘thank you’ to ‘thank you a lot’ over the ninety minute set. But what impressed from the outset – a feisty opening duo of ‘El Caminos In The West’ and ‘Now It's On’ - was how muscular and crisp the sound was. The loud guitars were all low-end growl, the keyboards and robotic bleeps pin-sharp and alive and Lytle’s voice was strong and unbroken whether for the halting frailty of ‘Underneath The Weeping Willow’ or the rough-edged ‘Chartsengrafs’. Grandaddy was largely - and certainly became - a Jason Lytle solo studio project so it was good to hear how in tune and interdependent with each other the five musicians were. And the set ransacked all corners of their back-catalogue rather than just focus on the millennial sadness of "The Sophtware Slump".

For the first of two encores, Grandaddy played a rocking version of Pavement’s ‘Here’ adding in some lines about their reformation with Lytle singing “we’re so fucking stoked to be HERE”. But as the final words of the song echoed around The Ritz (“last time...last time”), a sense of passing, of ending returned. There are only fifteen dates on this tour and especially for a band who sing of decommissioning and technical obsolescence, I sincerely hope they stick to this. Repeated global treks and no new material smacks of pure mercenary cash-in (hello Pixies). But also because after this evening’s excellent performance, if Grandaddy do continue their reunion touring, I might have to sacrifice my principles. Again.

The Set List (‘Chartsengrafs’ may be in the wrong place)

El Caminos In The West
Now It’s On
“Yeah” Is What We Had
Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer
The Crystal Lake
Underneath The Weeping Willow
Lost On Yer Merry Way
The Go In The Go-For-It
My Small Love
Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)
So You'll Aim Toward The Sky
Stray Dog And The Chocolate Shake
Hewlett's Daughter
Laughing Stock
He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot

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