Monday, 3 April 2017

Memories of 2017 gigs #3

Colston Hall, Bristol - 31 March 2017
Support: Amber Arcades

It's 20 years since Grandaddy's debut album 'Under The Western Freeway' hit the shelves, and 25 years since their first recordings. So it's fitting that they've seen fit to release 'Last Place', their first album since their 2006 split, this year. It's a corker too, one of my faves of the year so far in fact. I never got the chance to see Grandaddy first time around, so was delighted when they included Bristol in their current tour. I love Grandaddy, see.

A pleasant surprise was the announcement of Amber Arcades as support act. I don't know a lot about her, but am taken by her current single It Changes so hoped she'd deliver. Sadly, I was rather underwhelmed. The songs were OK, but she seemed to let herself down vocally, her voice just didn't come across too well. At times it seemed to disappear behind the music completely. Even so, I'll be checking out her new EP and last year's debut album 'Fading Lines' because she does have some decent tunes. Incidentally, as well as being an up-and-coming musician, Amber also has a fascinating day-job which, even if you're not enamoured by her music, you cannot help feeling enormous respect for her because of it.

An amusing observation of the audience was their dress sense. Never before had I seen so many check-shirts and baseball caps. Grandaddy seem to have spawned their own fashion. I own neither a check-shirt, nor a baseball cap. Neither do I have a beard, of which Grandaddy are also fond. MrsRobster and I were able to play a little game in the interval though. A point for every shirt spotted, one for every cap and one for every beard. Special bonus points for a combo of all three, and spotting a woman sporting any of them. In fact, triple points for a woman with a beard. That last one eluded both of us, but MrsRobster is an excellent people-watcher and totally wiped the floor with me, even getting the full combo and the female shirt-wearer. Rather amusingly, we played this to a soundtrack of Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass which filled the hall during the interval. I'm guessing the DJ didn't turn up...

A slightly nervous Grandaddy took to the stage - nervous, according to Jason Lytle, as guitarist Jim Fairchild was forced to leave the tour owing to "an emergency", so their friend (and former guitarist for Elliot Smith) Shaun stepped in at very short notice. You'd never have guessed he had to learn the set in super-quick time -  he killed it. The set seemed to fly by, full, as it was, of crowd-pleasing material spanning the band's career. You could write the setlist yourself, in fact: AM 180, Hewlett's Daughter, The Crystal Lake, Now It's On, Summer Here Kids, and He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot all present and correct. The new stuff fitted right in with Way We Won't, Evermore, The Boat Is In The Barn and I Don't Wanna Live Here Anymore sounding like established favourites. No complaints about the material then (although the icing on the cake would have been A Lost Machine from 'Last Place' and Disconnecty from 'Just Like The Fambly Cat'). The sound was also superb, but I've come to expect that at the Colston Hall. Even the visuals get a thumbs up - projections of films depicting the American wilderness, rural life and industry. And trains. Lots of trains.

Difficult to find fault other than how long they played. Or so I thought. It turns out Grandaddy were onstage for about an hour and a half, yet it simply flew by which is some indication of how enjoyable it was. Had they played another hour I wouldn't have complained.

And here's Evermore also from the 6 Music Festival:


  1. Could not be happier about the return of Grandaddy. No one to compare them to. Uniquely central Californian act. Only saw them a couple of times back in the day, but once featured an unannounced guest appearance by Elliott Smith, on the little stage of the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Very glad that their particular sound (and aesthetic) goes over so well so far away from home.

  2. Never quite got deep into Grandaddy although I do have a rarely listened to copy of 'The Sophtware Slump' on the shelf.

    A good friend of mine saw then in Edinburgh the other week and his verbal review was akin to all that you've written down.