Words by Richard T. Holmes
It’s been five years since Grandaddy last performed in Manchester (then at The Ritz) but on Tuesday they returned in support of their first album in just over a decade, ‘Last Place‘. Originating from Modesto, California, the alt-rock five-piece have been on something of a hiatus since 2006’s ‘Just Like The Fambly Cat’, returning only for a handful of reunion shows in 2012.
Opening for the indie stalwarts were Dutch act Amber Arcades, moniker of Annelotte de Graaf. Tonight on stage as a five-piece, dressed in all grey and bathed in purple light, they treated an already emotional audience to a set of warm and wistful songs.
Grandaddy appeared on stage under the Mellotron-laden title track from their 1997 debut album ‘Under The Western Freeway’, accompanied throughout their set with home video visuals juxtaposing American industry and nature – buffalos and freight trains, cityscapes and mountains. Technology vs. Nature is a theme intrinsic with Grandaddy’s music, along with a strong sense of nostalgia and punk rock leanings.
From behind his signature desk of keyboards, FX units and mixers and with guitar in hand, frontman Jason Lytle led the band through an enthusiastic set filled with old favourites. Five tracks came from their critically acclaimed 2000 album ‘The Sophtware Slump’ and four from debut ‘Under The Western Freeway’, including fan favourite A.M. 180, receiving the loudest cheers of the night.
Their scuzzy synths and crunchy guitars have always translated well to the stage, along with Jason’s emotive and deadpan vocals and the foundations of Jim Fairchild (also of Modest Mouse) on guitar. Ending with a cinematic 10 minutes of He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot, the reserved musicians thanked the crowd sincerely and left the stage. Fans were genuinely responsive for a cult band they thought would never return, and so naturally an encore followed. Starting with ‘The Boat Is In The Barn’ from the latest LP, the band finally called it a night with raucous classic Summer Here Kids. Don’t stay away too long this time, Grandaddy.
Grandaddy performed at The Albert Hall on Tuesday 28th March, 2017.