I went to see Midlake at the Leadmill in Sheffield last night. Truth be told, it wasn’t Midlake that I really wanted to see but the support act John Grant. John Grant has a CD out at the moment called ‘Queen of Denmark’ that unless something exceptional happens, is my album of 2010. And yes, I know it’s only June. Actually this album is goes completely against the grain of anything I’d chose to listen to. If you’re old enough it could almost be ‘Adult Orientated Rock’, which, for me, would be the kiss of death. But whereas that music was mawkish and lightweight but with great tunes, this keeps the tunes but exchanges the syrupy sentiments for sardonic look at fucked up relationships. It’s hard to how Grant can find humour when faced with utter defeat, but some of the lyrics on this album are among the best I’ve heard. But apart from that, the real star of ‘Queen of Denmark’ is John Grants spectacular voice.
If I was asked to describe this instrument, then I’d have to say if Lou Rawls and Karen Carpenter spawned a bastard love child from a passionate but brief affair, then its singing voice would sound remarkably like John Grant’s. I guess the only real way for you to decide if this album is any good is to cop a listen to it yourself, but I think it’s a wonderful piece of work and a real joy to listen to.
The Leadmill was bigger than I thought it would be, but because I’m early I get myself a good spot at the front of the stage and wait patiently for the show to begin. At half past eight, Grant and his band amble on stage, take up their instruments and start to play. I should mention that the place is packed with people who also seem to have come under the Queen of Denmark’s spell and are unusually attentive to this particular support band. He plays every thing I want him to play; ‘It’s Easier’ that resides in heartbreak, the master class in melancholia ‘Marz’, and what appears to be this crowds favourite ‘Sigourney Weaver’ It all done with out any flash of course, and its good, honest proper music for good honest proper people, and the crowd love it. John Grant has that look where he’s surprised that anyone has actually heard his work, let alone the warm welcome that greets each song, but I’m sure he’ll have to get used to it.
For me the set is not nearly long enough and I hoping that he’ll come to
Review/photos by Phil Kingwww.myspace.com/midlake