John Grant Static Gallery, Liverpool 19th August 2010

Ex Czars frontman John Grant's Green Man Festival warm up gig in a very damp Liverpool proved to be an enjoyable evening of rich baritone angst amid melancholy galore.

The Static Gallery is a small venue and set up so that the audience can get very close (if they are that way inclined) to the artists; a small stage in a steel raftered ex workshop with a capacity of about 250. About 180 people turned up on this very wet evening and included a mixture of dedicated fans and some curious punters.

There was a nice opening support set by local songstress Candie Payne who was ably accompanied by Paul Molloy in acoustic guitar. The stage for John Grant was set up with a couple of keyboards, two microphones and an acoustic guitar so we all guessed that there wouldn't be the surprise of Midlake turning up to do the backing. For those who don't know, Grant's solo album, 'Queen Of Denmark' was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, greatly helped by the many talents of Midlake performing the backing for him.

He was assisted on stage by Casey Chandler who helped with the keyboards and guitar and thus enables John to create a much richer sound that he could have done on his own. The set started off quietly and continued in that vein, though with the audience becoming more appreciative and animated as it went on. The rich, haunting voice and eerie synthesiser searing over the piano and piercing the damp air set the atmosphere throughout. Grant's previous addictions to alcohol and drugs, his alienation growing up due to him being gay and at one point being suicidal obviously heavily influences his lyrics and style of delivery. He's a modern day Leonard Cohen who can croon with the best of them. His delivery mesmerised and entranced the audience and by the time he performed 'Queen Of Denmark' they were almost rapturous in their appreciation. He is an excellent songwriter and can produce pieces of joy, angst and twisted bitterness; a true master at his craft.