The King’s Theatre in Glasgow seems an unlikely location for anything other than theatre and musicals, but tonight the Celtic Connections Festival is hosting American singer-songwriter John Grant. He performed at the festival in 2016 and returns to Glasgow after the release of his latest album Love is Magic. This record embraces an electro-pop sound and is a departure from his folk-influenced back catalogue. It will be interesting to hear how the music goes over in this theatrical setting.
Support this evening comes from musician E.B The Younger. This is the solo project of Midlake frontman Eric Brandon Palido, who gives the audience a taster of his upcoming album To Each His Own. He is joined on the stage by a pianist who gives Palido’s acoustic guitar a fuller and more uplifting sound. The music has a stripped back Americana feel and the songs have a nostalgic and sentimental quality.
John Grant and his band (which features former Siouxsie and the Banshees drummer Budgie) know how to get an audience dancing. They enter stage through a haze of smoke and Grant takes centre stage. The focus of tonight’s set is Love is Magic and the album is infused with grooves, rhythm and danceable tracks. He’s Got His Mother’s Hips, Preppy Boy and Touch and Go fit together in a well-paced and exciting set. With four solo albums to his name John Grant also dips into his back catalogue and even seems to be open to requests. This adds to the spontaneous exuberance of John Grant’s music and makes the gig feel like a special and unique event.
Classic tracks TC and Honeybear, Jesus Hates Faggots and GMF are all met with applause and delight. As the set progresses the audience can’t remain seated any longer and everyone is on their feet to dance. The extended encore gives the audience little time for rest as the title track from the latest album signals that John Grant is a musician who is constantly looking to move his music in new directions. His fans are happy to go along for the ride.