6 Music Festival reviews: The Shins/Grandaddy and Bonobo/Songhoy Blues

James Mercer of the Shins, a man who keens most winningly PIC: TORKIL/ADSERSEN/AFP/GettyImages
James Mercer of the Shins, a man who keens most winningly PIC: TORKIL/ADSERSEN/AFP/GettyImages
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Fiona Shepherd and David Pollock on Saturday at the 6 Music Festival

The Shins/Grandaddy ****

Academy, Glasgow

Review by: Fiona Shepherd

The 6 Music Festival line-up continued to throw up sonic delights aplenty on Saturday with this double bill of US indie royalty. Returning to the fray after a decade-long hiatus, Californian outfit Grandaddy simply picked up where they left off with frontman Jason Lytle’s wispy, plaintive voice bolstered by an atmospheric and often quite rocking recipe of distorted guitars, mournful keyboards, analogue synthesizer effects and unexpectedly epic riffing.

Lytle managed to resist the audience’s goading to make unbroadcastable utterances on live radio. His response instead was to play A.M. 180, one of the catchiest radio earworms with its fairground organ hook, while the Y2K blues of He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot showcased their more epic aspirations.

The Shins, hailing from Glasgow’s spiritual twin city of Portland, Oregon, are led by sensitive soul James Mercer, a man who keens most winningly in his soaring tenor but was a much more extrovert proposition when buoyed up by his endearingly keen band.

This was nothing if not a dynamic set, encompassing the rollicking rootsy new wave mix of Half a Million as well as a couple of country-influenced ditties, one with duetting fiddles and a cheering reference to fellow 6 Music Fest favourites the Jesus & Mary Chain.

As demonstrated by the glorious likes of Simple Song, all you really need is melody, and Mercer is stronger than most in this department, whether delivering a gentle folky strum or firing on full indie hoedown power, splicing Sleeping Lessons with a burst of Tom Petty’s American Girl.

Bonobo/Songhoy Blues ****

Barrowland, Glasgow

Review by: David Pollock

The second evening of the BBC 6 Music Festival’s Barrowlands residency continued where the previous night’s heavily indie-influenced opening chapter left off, although this time the musical tone was much different. A station not unknown for its devotion to classic male guitar rockers, the often unheralded diversity of 6 Music’s interests was explored here.

The results weren’t boundary-pushing, but they made for an entertaining exploration of styles. In the unflattering teatime slot, South London rapper Loyle Carner (aka Benjamin Coyle-Larner) fused thoughtful biographical raps exploring his own background with a DJ-played bed of music incorporating gospel, rock and old-school rap; much of which, he revealed at the end, was sampled from an unreleased album by his late father, in whose honour he clutched a Man United top. After him, the jazz-infused yacht rock style of well-travelled session bassist Thundercat was similarly redolent of the hot spring day outside, although shorn of recent star collaborations with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams, the bass parts developed an almost overwhelming focus.

Famously formed in exile following the imposition of sharia law in their home city of Timbuktu, Mali, live quintet Songhoy Blues offered a distinctly Western experience, a straight-up blues-rock set infused with the accent and rhythms of their homeland. Their track Soubour has become a crossover hit, and it was augmented here by a set of out-and-out party tracks like One Colour, the sentiment of which tells us “no-one can be anything without others.”

Finally Brightonian electronic producer Bonobo, aka Simon Green, offered an almost symphonic take on the club set, playing either solo at his keyboard or with a full band-and-singers retinue, and deftly building up from an air of soulful ambience to an emphatic house music party.