Tuesday 5th October, 2021
It was never my intention to take so long to write this, this is the third time I’ve sat down to find words to describe just how brilliant and special it was to see John Grant again. The problem with feeling things as deeply as I do is that transitioning back to reality after you’ve been soaring among the stars is quite difficult. The juxtaposition too great. After all. what goes up must inevitably come down. I was too emotionally exhausted from this gig to have written about it quickly.
John was magnificent. He is magnificent. Something in him, in the atmosphere, in the crowd, connected in a way it hadn’t in Bath. And I was there, part of it, up close and personal through my zoom lens, to witness and partake. I was given pretty much free reign of the theatre and allowed to photograph as I wanted. If Bath had been a dream come true then I’m not sure how to describe being given the freedom to photograph from where I wanted and basically for as long as I wanted as long as I didn’t get in the way. Heaven I suppose.
I started at the front and side of the stalls, as close as I could be without getting on the stage itself. Christ alive, what a privileged place to be. To see John’s smile, which is genuinely one so filled with warmth it may as well be a lamp, through the camera lens was just all the things. I moved around a little and decided that rather than sitting in my guest stalls seat I would spend most of the gig esconsed in one of the boxes. Cheeky I know, but it tucked me out of the way and allowed me the freedom to enjoy watching one of the best live acts I’ve seen at his full power. John Grant live is John Grant on record squared, multiplied by 50 and added to 3000. He may still get tangled in wires and claim he’s learnt no stage craft, but to watch him work a crowd is just magical. The playfulness, the dancing, the cheekiness, the emotion, the generosity, it’s all there with John and that’s why I love him. No-one else can make me laugh and cry and dance in the space of one song like he can. He’s just a magnificent bastard and I love the bones of him.
Highlights? Can I possibly pick every song and the whole night? Marz was lit so beautifully that despite wanting to leave the camera in its case and just be a fan, I couldn’t resist picking it up and taking some shots. Queen of Denmark, where again I couldn’t help myself from taking more slightly illicit photos, as John worked the stage and the crowd like a total pro and where he and the crowd gleefully exchanged lines. The beautifully dedicated TC & Honeybear in the encore. GMF which will forever and a day make me chuckle, the wit and humour in John’s songs is lyrical perfection. Glacier, I have no new words to describe how powerful Glacier is. Pale Green Ghosts, which manages to be heavy and joyful at the same time, with drum loops, synths and strings building a creepy atmosphere that makes every fibre of my body want to dance. Mike and Julie, haunting and beautiful. Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, bleak but weirdly uplifting. Boy From Michigan for one line alone. Every other song he played. Just all of it. If I could bottle a gig to keep forever, I would keep every second of this one. It was one of those very special gigs where the feelings were so strong that they burned images, like photographic negatives, into my consciousness. If I close my eyes I can see, feel and hear them all again.
I GOT TO PHOTOGRAPH JOHN GRANT and watch the gig from a private box in a theatre where I got to FEEL ALL THE THINGS. It was a special night, an incredible experience and I am very lucky to have experienced it. I remain humble and grateful to John’s team for allowing me the opportunity to be there. I don’t take nights like this for granted, I never did and I never will. They are precious and powerful and I can’t thank you enough, John. Thank you.