John Grant – Southampton Guildhall

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After a stormy day in Southampton, it was heartening to hear John Grant play to a warm crowd this weekend.

Through his memorable lyrics, John’s wicked songs tackle deeply personal issues ranging from depression, to the public struggles associated with his homosexuality. His heartfelt voice demonstrates how we can conquer our demons with mesmerising charisma and wit, and occasional gratuitous cursing. 

Throughout this truly special show, his songs are filled with humour rather than bile. When he played ‘Glacier’, you could hear a drop of water fall, with the crowd mesmerised. His voice carved out deep valleys and created spectacular landscapes.

Many artists would be proud to write such personal tunes in dark times, and he continually demonstrated the great rapport he has with his fans. it’s little wonder Elton John has stated John Grant is one of his favourite contemporary musicians.

When he’s not playing keyboard or synth, Mr Grant shimmy’s and struts to his increasingly electronic beats. To the side of the Guildhall stage are over-large warning signs stating ‘No crowd surfing’ – while there’s little chance from the appreciative audience, everyone in seats is on their feet and dancing. 

For the encore, John plays  his recent new release ‘Love is Magic’. With Valentines’ Day fast approaching, he trashes the commercialism with lyrics ‘It isn’t so tragic. It’s just a lie that you bought’  

Self-loathing has never sounded so much fun in this uplifting show.

Graham Tarrant

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