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Grandaddy - Roundhouse, London, 3/4/2017

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 27 / 5 / 2017

Grandaddy - Roundhouse, London, 3/4/2017


Chris O'Toole enjoys a wistful and understated set at the Roundhouse in London from critically acclaimed California-formed indie act Grandaddy

A strange band Grandaddy. Never comfortable in the spotlight, they originally broke up in 2006, critically acclaimed but largely ignored commercially. Frontman and driving force Jason Lytle relocated to Montana, where he made two solo albums, and reconnected with the natural world around him. But, as has often been the case of late, pangs of nostalgia began to gnaw at him and the band returned in 2012 to a rapturous welcome. It seems absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Lytle, after a brief sojourn in Portland, Oregon, recently returned to his home in Modesto, California, and began writing new songs he felt would be fitting for another Grandaddy album. Now released, under the oh-so-Grandaddy title of ‘Last Place’, the group is touring again in support. Taking the stage in front of a packed audience at the Roundhouse in London, it seems impossible they could have ever been away. There is a palpable love for the group in the air, with enthusiastic applause greeting their arrival. As they open with fan favourite ‘Hewlett’s Daughter’ a large screen behind the group displays images of a sepia Americana: power stations, trains, and mountains. As has been the case throughout their career the mood is wistful, half-remembered and unobtrusive, but there is also an added spring in Lytle’s step, as though he has been fully reinvigorated by his time away. Though he keeps his comments to the crowd short, perhaps displaying some of the shyness that kept them from touring for all that time, the music is focused, removing some of the more rambling passages from the records. Strangely only one song from ‘Last Place’ – ‘Evermore’ – is included in the set-proper, while ‘The Boat is in the Barn’ slips in during the encore. The rest of the set list is drawn from their breakthrough album, ‘The Sophtware Slump’, and debut ‘Under the Western Freeway’. Lytle's voice has held up well, sounding as vulnerable and expressive as ever, while his guitar playing is a lot more robust live than the records might suggest. ‘The Crystal Lake’, with its swirl of lo-fi sonics, is warmly greeted, before the familiar keyboard riff from ‘A.M. 180’ gets perhaps the biggest cheer of the night. The latter finishes with Lytle performing a slow motion guitar solo over what sounds like an applause track - to general amusement. A two song encore, which also includes hit ‘Summer Here Kids’, closes the evening. While their recorded output might be doom laden, riven with paranoia about a future that seems to have arrived since they originally prophesised it in the early 2000s', on stage Grandaddy put the power pop guitar tones and candy-coloured electronics front and centre, creating a great show, and reminding the crowd just what it is they have been missing all this time.

Also at Roundhouse, London

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Grandaddy - Roundhouse, London, 3/4/2017

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Sophtware Slump (2001)
This old fart remembers the days of Lou Reed's "Berlin" and I wonder if in twenty years time I'll still be as stunned by this Grandaddy album as I am by that. Right now, I'd say: 'yes' ! "The Sophtwa

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