Album review: John Grant - Live In Concert

PUBLISHED: 16:45 01 December 2014

John Grant - With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live In Concert

John Grant - With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra: Live In Concert


The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra are employed to superb effect in this spine-tingling concert with the singer-songwriter.

Just a few weeks back, feted singer-songwriter Grant had the “huge honour” of performing an orchestral re-imagining of cuts from his impressive catalogue with the BBC’s 60-piece orchestra.

If you managed to catch the broadcast from Salford on 6Music you’ll already know how special it was.

Grant’s long-time collaborator Fiona Brice should be heralded for her arrangements on the 16-song set, which breathe life and wonder into Grant’s already crafted songs, elucidating his refreshingly prosaic, everyday lyricism (“I feel like Winona Ryder in that movie about vampires”, he sings on an emboldened, grandiose Sigourney Weaver decorated with flute and bolstered with a great brass presence).

Marz, with lyrics taken from a vintage sweet menu from a shop in his home town of Buchanan, Michigan, is one of his favourites to perform and boasts a vivid, filmic and meandering piano signature, ending on a high with a butterfly-delicate flute.

Fireflies is tender and personal, the string-heavy Glacier finds his vocals imbued with a suppressed, righteous anger and the set is scattered with recollections and asides from Grant, who’s clearly enjoying himself.

The string-led Where Dreams Go To Die is performed with beautifully downcast restraint, too, and the chilling orchestral stabs of Pale Green Ghosts jump out at you like a multiplex thriller.

Looking for a fault, things get a touch shrill on Outer Space, but that really doesn’t reduce this edifying, entrancing and essential record.

Rating: 5/5

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