London Grammar @ Birmingham Town Hall, 4th April 2017

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London Grammar

Tonight is an evening out for those bohemian, arty types, as London Grammar are playing at the fittingly beautiful Town Hall. They have no album release to promote and have simply decided to play three shows, Glasgow, Birmingham and London, which as expected sold-out in next to no time. However there are empty seats in the balcony and to be fair the stalls has plenty of space to move around in.

There is an orderly queue to get in the venue, and for a people watcher it’s an entertaining way to pass twenty minutes whilst drinking an eye-wateringly expensive pint (five pounds for poor lager in a plastic glass). The highlight was a lady actually wearing patent silver boots. I’ll say that again, patent silver boots, so shiny they resembled a mirror. But I digress, tonight is about the music.

This three piece outfit have had just one album to date, 2013’s “If you wait” and it’s a suitable title given that there’s been no new album in the four years since, but the tempting release of two new songs in January and February this year have whetted the appetite for the soon to be released “Truth is a beautiful thing” album. Their talent is very evident and whilst Dot Major appears to be all-hands on the music front, moving from his three keyboards to a drum kit, the star of the show is Hannah Reid, who has a voice that simply makes you melt.

Opening with “Rooting for you” it’s almost an accapello song, her voice is simply mesmeric, and I have to applaud the tech guys for a near-perfect sound tonight. There is little crowd interaction, no stories or anecdotes, simply “hello Birmingham”, letting the delights of their music wash over us.

There are a few new songs aired this evening, notably “Big Picture” which was put out in February this year and another delightful song “Hell to the liars”, which have the wonderful trademarks of what London Grammar are about, sublime keyboards, a whisper of guitar, maybe some drum loop and then there is that haunting vocal. Another particular highlight was the Ivor Novello awarded “Strong”, just the most gorgeous song, and I felt like I’d drifted away to some paradise and even managed to obscure the constant talking from the couple behind me, but I must confess after the song I did ask them to be quiet, which seemed to work.

It’s a short set, at just over an hour and this includes an encore of “Truth is a beautiful thing” from the same titled album due out in June, and “Metal & Dust” from their debut release back in 2013, in two songs covering their career from conception to present. What we have witnessed this evening was truly special. A very good friend of mine has been telling me how good London Grammar are for years, but they’ve never really been on my radar, but tonight that changed. It’s impossible to have your ear-drums massaged, but this evening was about as close as you could get, Hannah Reid really does have a stunning voice.

There’s no merchandise this evening, reinforcing that there is nothing to promote just yet, this really is a show to say ‘hello’, but the good news is there is a new album due in June. It’s available on pre-order now, but the limited coloured vinyl editions have long since sold out. It could be a contender for album of the year.

So to summarise this was the perfect venue for the perfect band, and the only improvement would’ve been to have seats in the stalls. I’m not quite sure why it was standing, as looking at the numbers, there didn’t appear any more people than would’ve been accommodated by seats, and as Reid commented to the people in the balcony “it’s nice to sit down, better for your back and legs”. Indeed it is, but any back-pain was forgotten and healed by those wonderful tones.

London Grammar Set-list

Rooting for you
Big picture
Wasting my young years
Hell to the liars
Hey now
Wild eyed

Truth is a beautiful thing
Metal & dust


Review: Glenn Raybone

Photographs: Marc Osborne

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