Celtic Connections review: John Grant, King’s Theatre, Glasgow

John Grant has the voice of an angel – if angels are baritones – the garb of a garage mechanic and the pants-swinging moves of a man who’s been through it all and just doesn’t care anymore. After all, he has his music through which to channel his desires, humour, neuroses and bile, and no matter what he sings about or how he presents it – whether buoyed by lyrical piano on TC and Honeybear or backed by the throb of moody synthesiser, cheesy keytar and trebly rat-a-tat syndrum on Smug C*** – a torch song always seems to come out in the end.

John Grant PIC: Jason Sheldon/REX/Shutterstock

John Grant, King’s Theatre, Glasgow ****

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This capacity show was technically under the banner of Celtic Connections but really a festival all of its own, founded on a vociferous mutual love affair. Grant paid tribute to Glasgow and particularly his “alma mater” round the corner, Nice’n’Sleazy, while there were frequent declarations of love, shrill and gruff, from the frisky crowd, with at least some of that excitement reserved for drummer Budgie, late of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

New album Love is Magic was well represented in all its electro disco party finery with Grant and band switching from the vaudevillian electronica flourishes of Metamorphosis to the romantic melodrama of Is He Strange.

But inevitably the greatest ardour was reserved for the classics of his early solo career, including the majestic Glacier, which shifted up a dramatic gear for a monumental finish and what Grant reckoned might be his best ever live rendition of the brilliant takedown tantrum Queen of Denmark. -Fiona Shepherd