Celtic Connections review: John Grant, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

John Grant. Picture: Getty Images

John Grant. Picture: Getty Images

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JOHN Grant appears to make friends wherever he goes, dedicating this Celtic Connections set and various songs to different groups of locals and fielding declarations of love from manly-sounding individuals in the crowd.

John Grant | Rating: **** | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

It’s safe to express your deepest feelings at a John Grant concert – after all, the man onstage is laying it all out there in gloriously epic but never bombastic piano pop songs with frequently vulnerable, sometimes acerbic, often playful lyrics.

Grant’s voice is one of the most gorgeously expressive instruments out there, and his solo career since splitting alt.country band The Czars has provided the perfect outlet for his romantic agonies. It Doesn’t Matter To Him is a tale of desolation, all the more powerful because Grant doesn’t milk the sentiments.

The melodrama of Where Dreams Go To Die was exquisitely marshalled, and even the outbursts on the chorus of Queen of Denmark were set off like controlled explosions.

His torch singer talents were just as well served when his band - including Budgie of Siouxsie & the Banshees on drums for that extra gothic frisson – stealthily built up the hypnotizing electro throb of Pale Green Ghosts. Marz was appropriately embellished with some spacey synthesizer, and was it just timely preoccupation, or were there hints of Bowie throughout the set? Certainly the electro funk rock interlude recalled the Starman’s more industrial moments.

“I need to find new words for ‘amazing’,” declared Grant, following another round of profuse thanks. For now, all kinds of amazing just about covers it.

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