Grandaddy at Vicar Street – Review

Grandaddy

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It takes Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle about 40 minutes to say something to the Vicar Street crowd. When he does, it’s to explain that this is only their second show of their tour after a small hometown show and imploring the crowd to, “let us know what it’s like to be a bunch of guinea pigs.” Worry seems to be Lytle’s default setting (he jokingly refers the two new songs that show up late in the set ‘Disaster No. 1’ and ‘Disaster No.2’) but he needn’t have worried at all. The band are tight and deliver a crowd pleasing set that was never likely to fail.

That self-effacing modesty is part of their charm. Critical darlings during their initial run as a band, they never really translated that into huge commercial success and that seems to have kept them grounded. They even look like five aul lads who would have sat in the same corner of the pub once a week for the past twenty years, putting the world to rights.

Not that they’re trading on past glories. The two new songs in the set sound fresh and bode well for a new album that Lytle says could be out by early next year. Elsewhere, Lytle flits between guitar and synth, leading the band in an understated way – actually, ‘understated’ could describe Grandaddy’s music and their career as a whole, which is a shame in some ways because they really are brilliant.

From the gentleness of ‘Laughing Stock’ through to Jim Fairchild’s searing guitar work on ‘Chartsengrafs’, this is a masterclass from a band with an exceptional back catalogue. ‘Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer’ hangs like a dream in the air while the loopy 8 bit riff of ‘AM180’ predictably gets the biggest cheer of the night.

Although ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot’ gets almost as big a reception when it’s played as the first of a two song encore. It’s an epic rendition of an epic song before the crowd is gently sent on their way with ‘Summer Here Kids’, the band leaving with little fanfare but the appreciative cheers of the crowd ringing in their ears.

They seem almost surprised by the reaction but it’s a wholly deserved response to a fantastic show. Maybe Grandaddy will some day realise just how good they are. Anyone with any doubts in Vicar Street will certainly have been converted. Grandaddy are back and for this, we should all be thankful.

 

Mark O'Brien

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