John Grant @ Cork Opera House 26th January 2016

A damp and dreary Thursday night on Leeside sees John Grant roll into town for the first big gig of 2016 at the Cork Opera House.

Opening proceedings tonight was Sóley, an Icelandic, indie pop/folk artist.  Sóley is a wonderful singer/songwriter aided by her piano and making very good use of vocal and instrumental loops. Songs ‘Pretty Face’ and the excellent ‘I’ll Drown’ went down a treat with the Cork audience but it was Sóley’s personality which seemed to steal the show. Amusing anecdotes and self-deprecating humour between songs has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.

At 21:00 the lights go down and a wave of anticipation fills the sold out auditorium, while stragglers struggle frantically to find their seats. John Grant takes to the stage with four band members in tow, a biblical verse from his latest album’s ‘Intro’ plays in the background. ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ Grant’s 3rd studio album was released in 2015 and has since received much critical acclaim. John Grant has been taken to the hearts of the Irish public and this is reflected in album sales as ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ received its highest chart position in the Ireland, while Grant also enjoys ample airplay on the Irish airwaves.

Opening numbers ‘Geraldine’ and ‘Down Here’ gently get things under way before Grant introduces the band and further endears himself to the audience by mentioning his love for The Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, a local landmark and music venue renowned for its splendid scenic views. Album title track ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter to Him’ follow the same tempo as the opening numbers with Grant now seated at the piano.

’Pale Green Ghosts’ driving, almost techno beats and the accompanying light show are polar opposites to the opening tracks. ‘Guess How I Know’ has a hard rock feel to it and ‘Snug Slacks’ is almost Hip-Hop sounding and has Grant bopping around the stage in his Beanie hat. So in the last 15 minutes Grant has switched between three genres effortlessly and injected some much needed life into the set.

The pace eases off again but nobody seems to mind as the trio of fan favourites ‘Glacier’, GMF’ and ‘Queen Of Denmark’ are as expected greatly received. I felt myself having to question the decision to make it an all seated gig when people started dancing in their seats to Grant’s biggest single of late ‘Disappointing’ and to a very dance orientated encore. Regardless of the seating arrangements one thing rings true, John Great has one of the best voices in modern indie/alternative music.


Words by Anthony Kelly