John Grant with Royal Northern Sinfonia (recorded in 2014, broadcast 2020)

Friday 12th June, 2020

In support of the Music Venues Trust, this recording of a concert from 2014 was broadcast as live by a number of wonderful venues, including Bristol’s own, soon to be renamed, Colston Hall. It was recorded at the Sage Gateshead, which I’ve never been to, but looks pretty fab from the footage. Many, many venues are under threat due to loss of income during the Covid crisis. Donate to as many as you can, but mostly donate what you can to the MVT. Culture and the arts are vital to life, to wellbeing, to health and to, well, everything. We could lose so much without them.

Now I may have mentioned this before, but I love John Grant. Like really love him. I have seen him live a number of times, every one of them special. I also love orchestral music. The first time I heard John’s music was on a BBC4 documentary where he was playing with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and it was that that prompted me to seek out his records and to fall in love. How I wish I had seen this concert live at the time. Right now, the best any of us can hope for, is a livestream so in way it felt no different. I turned the lights down low, to aid atmosphere, whacked the volume right up and other than there being no background chatter or people near me, I could have been at a live show.

It was wonderous and glorious and all sorts of fabulous. John’s voice, so gorgeous, took us through humour, humility, arrogance, love, pain and redemption, just as it always does. John Grant’s voice is the goalkeeper of the pop world, a safe pair of hands and as my friend Jacqui says, should be available on prescription. It certainly did me good to sit and listen. Pale Green Ghosts, magnificent with the orchestrations, had me on my feet. GMF I have to sing along with, until the Richard Burton line which makes me collapse laughing everytime. Glacier, oh my gosh, too emotional and stirring and powerful. If for nothing else I will always love JG for this song, written about and in pain to soothe and give strength, it has been the balm I’ve needed many a time.

It was the best non gig, gig experience I’ve had in lockdown. It came close to capturing the power live music has to move me. One of the gigs I’ve missed in the past three months was seeing John at the Forum in Bath. There was a tiny sliver of a chance I may have been able to photograph that one. It is probably just as well that didn’t happen, I may have fainted from excitement. John Grant is, I think, the only one of my musical heroes left that I’ve not met (I have been a VERY lucky woman) and I adore him so much it would be too overwhelming to be that close.

Until we can return to concert halls and venues, events like this are the best we can hope for. They feel special for being shared; I knew Jacqui, Sally and Jeff were also listening at the same time and even if we couldn’t be physically together, we could share in the music somehow and that matters. It really matters.



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