An ideal venue for distinguished indie rockers, Leeds Irish Centre is massive and full to the brim for Grandaddy, in Leeds off the back of releasing “Last Place”, their first album in eleven years. They’ve been the main feature in social media and events supporting their comeback but they have, perhaps, failed to appeal to a younger audience judging from the wave of wrinkles to see the material performed prior to the band’s hiatus in 2006.
Snaking bar queues of overheated fans drinking Guinness listened to support act Amber Arcades, an Indie Dream-Pop band from The Netherlands. Founded and fronted by innocent looking Annelotte de Graaf, their core is synthesizers and her floaty vocal, alike to Nena, creating a velvet texture. I could imagine the five instrumentalists music video set on the moon from the pink and smoke filled stage. We could be listening to 1980’s Californian pop and a fitting soundtrack to a Big Sur roadtrip.
Grandaddy’s rock of ages, Jason Lytle, sang ‘Underneath The Weeping Willow’ having to improvise on keyboard due to a technical fault with his guitar. He jokes how they ‘run a tight fucking ship’. This mishap and heavily reverbed solo act may have set the performance off on a mellow foot but they soldiered on delivering a set list spanning over their five albums.
The stage backdrop is a projection of moving landscapes which warps in various ways matching their psychedelic sound to trippy images. Pixelated scenes of mountains, valleys, cows, haystacks and factories distort while staccato synth blimps and effected guitar riffs form ‘Way We Won’t’.
Has Lytle’s voice with it’s Country twist a similarity with Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers? He adds excessive reverb and live bassist, Garcia, blends his harmonies perfectly. Apart from stud Fairchild (guitarist) they look like middle aged truck drivers donning caps and Burtch (drums) with a ZZ Top beard. Their epic progressive Indie Rock has been mastered over almost 25 years and has proved to age well; so much so the past material could have been written today. Ahead of their time, they have influenced and collaborated with an array of other artists.
Teasing the crowd, Lytle invites questions – the most inventive heckle being ‘where’s the toilet?’. He banters asking how they were and replys ‘we’re good too thanks’ when no one reciprocates and mentions the death of a family cat. The audience were clearly reticent to engage as Grandaddy plays the majority of the new album reserving their energy for the final section as more familiar hits conclude the set.
The highlight of my night was ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Here Anymore’ reminiscent of George Harrison and dreamy with heavy guitar riffs mirroring the lead catchy vocal. The footage and lyrical content emanate from Lytle’s recent return to his hometown Modesto, California after moving to Portland, Oregon for a few years.
Last Place written and produced by Lytle is a personal album about his divorce as he sang ‘Evermore / Lost / But not for nothing’. More harrowing was ‘My Small Love’ from 2002’s Concrete Dunes ‘I’ve lost my way / I don’t get anyone / I don’t get you’.
Grandaddy took us to outer space for the end section with cosmic, celestial tracks from their earlier days.. They echoed Pink Floyd with a fresh collection of sublime songs, flawlessly performed.