Sunday, June 13, 2010

Midlake / John Grant at The Cat's Cradle - 4/3/2010

with John Grant
The Cat's Cradle

I missed Midlake the last time they rolled through town, and nearly drove to Asheville to see them last time they were in the state but caught a case of the lazies. But this time, there would be no missing them - they were bringing John Grant on tour.

John Grant was the singer for the criminally underrated band the Czars. And when I say "criminally", I mean to say if you haven't listened to them you should be arrested for being an idiot. Their album "The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful People" is easily one of my top ten favorite records of the previous decade, maybe even top five. Sadly, the Czars split up before I ever got a chance to see them play, but I did get to see Grant perform solo soon after the split and at least got to hear him sing a few of those songs live. And now I was going to get to see Grant again, making me as excited as a teenage boy in a adult film superstore.

My previous live experience just had Grant sitting in front of a piano crooning, but after the first song this time it was a full live band experience, including members of Midlake. He had just released his first solo record "Queen of Denmark", and the set list mirrored most of this record (along with a an unreleased song or two from the same era). Grant has the best (or at least my favorite) voice going today, and I'm here to tell you it's just as strong if not stronger live than it is on record. The weird thing about these solo songs are how strange/cynical/funny they are, not nearly as serious as you'd expect to hear from a voice like his. It's really my only complaint about Grant, that the lyrical content almost lessens the power of his voice, but who am I to second guess a man's song choices. It was still a damn fine show, and while I'm sure most of the crowd had no idea who he was hopefully he won over a few new fans. He surely deserves it.

Midlake was a clusterfuck of awesomeness. The band had seven members, and four of them were guitarists. Like any good band there was a full time flutist, but there were occasions when a couple of dudes were blowing the metal pipe (this description also works for gay robot porn). In fact, the greatest moment of the night was when two of the guitarists were playing leads in conjunction with two flute solos, it was almost as awesome as watching Jethro Tull play in front of a mirror.

Jokes aside, they played a great set. All those guitars might have been overkill, but it sounded magical to my ears. It was a pretty long set, at least an hour and a half, and I'd guess they played pretty much every song from their last two records "The Trial of Van Occupanther" and "The Courage of Others". Yes, everyone went nuts when they played "Roscoe", but for good reason as it's a fantastic song. Even the (what looked like) Marines on shore leave standing in front of me were loving the show, in between one of their two or three dozen trips to the bar and/or bathroom. Seriously, they probably drank fifteen beers each - they wanted to party with some slightly proggy art rock, and by god they did it to the fullest.

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