Review: James Grant & the Hallelujah Strings

There was a sort of symmetry to this string-soaked celebration of the back catalogue of James Grant, as it brought him back to the venue where his former band Love & Money premiered their third album (and Grant's personal favourite), Dogs In The Traffic, in the company of a couple of compadres from the time, guitarist Douglas MacIntyre and drummer Gordon Wilson, plus distinguished contemporaries Donald Shaw on keyboards, bassist Ewen Vernal, guitarist Brian McFie and vocalist Monica Queen, and the sweet sonic icing of the Hallelujah Strings, a 14-piece string section led by Greg Lawson. Now that's a line-up.
James GrantJames Grant
James Grant

All played their part to astutely pitched perfection, not least the droll Grant. Composer Craig Armstrong’s arrangement of Nature Boy and his own My Thrawn Glory demonstrated his talents as a torch singer, while the tasty arrangement of Piglet featured tremulous strings bouncing off Grant’s meaty lead guitar.


James Grant & the Hallelujah Strings 4stars

City Halls, Glasgow

Token positive song This Could Be The Day was mooted by Grant as a possible Commonwealth Games theme, but there was something in that wry jest. The power of suggestion was also strong when Dusty Springfield was namedropped as the inspiration for a lush arrangement of I Can’t Stop Bleeding.

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For a self-styled purveyor of “grim tales”, Grant presided over a celebratory home run, revisiting the 80s pop funk of Jocelyn Square, now enhanced with disco strings, powered up a newer Love & Money song, The Devil’s Debt, and, with the crowd on their feet, pulled off a swaggering Starman.