James Grant/Monica Queen
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
* * *
Her throaty vocals soared over her band’s solid backing, finishing with the funky, 12-minute Here I Am, a 1994 single from her former band Thrum, though she returned as part of headliner James Grant’s band.
He first played the old Bandstand 28 years ago with 1980s soulsters Love And Money – a long gap between gigs, but Grant’s filled the time by establishing himself as a respected songwriter and Celtic Connections stalwart (and re-forming the band a couple of years ago). He’s also been working on a sense of humour as dry as the weather isn’t: “You must really love me to have turned out on a night like this,” he tells the soggy crowd.
Grant’s relaxed stage presence is engaging but his voice is an acquired taste, a relic of that odd late 1980s period when almost all Scottish bands bar The Proclaimers affected a mid-Atlantic twang. While quieter songs like My Father’s Coat retained some individuality, older Love And Money tracks like Hallelujah Man and Up Escalator still tend towards a brash and obvious soulless funk.
Conversely, the deliberately unsubtle Can’t Beat The Music was the highlight of the set, as Grant – wittily reflecting on the post-fame musician’s career – coaches the audience to respond to the line, “People they say to me –” with an ironic, “Didn’t you used to be somebody?”
Seen on 02.08.14