Grandaddy – Live at ABC Glasgow, Thursday 30th August 2012
As anyone keeping an eye on my Twitter feed would have noticed, last Thursday ended up being a bit of a Scottish indie pilgrimage to the ABC in Glasgow. The reason: FUCKING GRANDADDY!
Funnily enough, for all my rather silly fanboyism, I’m not sure exactly how or when Grandaddy managed to achieve the legendary status they seem to have with my peers. Or indeed myself. To the best of my knowledge they really only have three well-known albums – Under the Western Freeway, The Sophtware Slump and Sumday – but even the first of those didn’t exactly make a massive splash at the time of release.
I remember listening to it in a record shop when I was a student, and finding it a little too odd and abrasive for my taste back then. There was definitely something about it that I wanted to like, definitely something in there I really responded to, I just couldn’t find a way to properly connect with the album as a whole.
I did love Sophtware Slump pretty much immediately of course – it was the big pop record which finally ‘broke’ the band to some degree after all – but even then it took me a long while to get into Sumday, despite the eagerness with which I anticipated it. Songs like I’m on Standby, The Go in the Go For It and The Group Who Couldn’t Say are still some of my least favourite Grandaddy songs and they dominate the first half of that album, meaning it took a while for me to realise that the rest of the record is absolutely brilliant.
They have other releases of course, but not all that many, and I think it’s fair to say that these three albums represent the majority of what people are talking about when they say they love Grandaddy. And three albums doesn’t seem like much to me, I have to confess, although I suppose three albums of genius is a lot more than most bands ever get a sniff of.
And then, around 2006/7 or so, around the time that Just Like the Fambly Cat failed to really excite me, I ended up not so much forgetting about the band, just allowing them to drift onto that sort of musical backburner where you end up not really thinking about a band all that much, despite not thinking any the less of them.
Slowly but surely though, over the last couple of years, in conversations with friends, it started to emerge that lots of people really love Grandaddy. Eventually it became clear that pretty much everyone I know loves Grandaddy. I mean, really loves Grandaddy. By the time their three classic albums were reissued on vinyl last year it was pretty much a given that I would buy them all immediately. Even Mrs. Toad loved them that much by then!
So yes, somehow, and somewhat surprisingly, Grandaddy seem to have ended up becoming something of a legendary band.
The ABC in Glasgow was absolutely packed with music types for the gig; bands, writers, promoters and labels all over the place. And the show itself (yes, I am finally getting to that) was awesome.
I always feel a little grubby about things like reunion tours, because they feel a little forced. My cynical side wonders whether it’s the money or whether bands just never manage to get subsequent enterprises off the ground and end up pining for their disappearing youth. And for the fans, if you are just seeing a band trot out the songs, rather than an actual, live existing band… well I’m not sure how it’s different, but it still feels different, doesn’t it.
The case with Grandaddy is a little different of course. They only split up about six years ago anyway, and this reunion is very likely to result in a new release as well.
This show, on the other hand, was basically a joyous romp through a set of greatest hits. A couple of notable tunes were missing, such as Broken Household Appliance and Summer Here Kids, but the tunes they did play were all pretty much essential so it’s hard to complain.
For a band returning to an adoring public they didn’t exactly milk it either, although from the odd glance between them they seemed to be enjoying being back together. And as an audience we were enjoying it too. In fact, lapping it up might be more appropriate.
Now It’s On, The Crystal Lake, AM 180, Laughing Stock and a beasting version of Chartsengraphs were all brilliant. And live even songs like Yeah Is What We Had, which I didn’t think I liked that much, were pretty bloody excellent. And I suppose that’s what makes this band so special: even their crap songs are better than the best most other bands can manage.