Excited fans funnel into the Vicar Street auditorium over the course of an excellent support set by Limerick alt-rockers Windings. It’s a mature crowd, comprised mainly of thirty somethings, some of whom, like me, missed Grandaddy the first time round before their untimely disbanding in 2006, or even during their reunion tour in 2012. Since then these veteran purveyors of wonderfully melodic Americana have been keeping things relatively quiet, with frontman Jason Lytle touring and releasing his own solo material in between.
We’ve compiled a playlist of the set below to listen to as you read:
It’s with much anticipation then that devout fans await tonight’s performance, which kicks off with a flurry of synth noises before the throbbing guitar riff of ‘Hewlett’s Daughter’ launches the set with an assured confidence. Lytle stands centre stage behind his keyboard set up, with an array of gadgets within his reach and a Fender Jazzmaster slung over his shoulder. In the manner of a perfectionist he has a few brief exchanges with the onstage sound techs to make sure everything is sitting where it should be in his monitor mix.
If there are two constants in Lytle’s songwriting they would have to be his ability to craft ridiculously catchy choruses, coupled with an air of dystopian melancholy, and songs like ‘Levitz’ and ‘Beautiful Ground’ showcase this to full effect, while the glittering arpeggios of ‘Crystal Lake’ and beautiful simplicity of ‘AM 180’ move things up a gear and get the audience into full swing, with some fist-pumping action thrown in for good measure.
In an alternate reality any of these songs could be a billboard topping hit, but instead many now enjoy a cult status as anthems of a doomed civilisation and relics of a criminally under-rated band.
Lesser known oddities like ‘Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer’ and ‘My Small Love’ pepper the set, as well as the unveiling of two brand new Grandaddy songs, ‘Check Injin’ and ‘Way We Won’t’, which Lytle introduces as ‘Disaster No. 1’ and ‘Disaster No. 2’. ‘Way We Won’t’ relies on a synth hook that seems a bit heavy handed compared to some of Grandaddy’s more delicate melodic lines of yesteryear, but the test run goes down well with tonight’s punters.
Only one song from their 2006 release Just Like the Fambly Cat makes it onto tonight’s set, leaving a notable absence of some fine songs like ‘Jeez Louise’, ‘Skateboarding Saved Me Twice’ or the addictive meow, meow refrain of ‘Where I’m Any More’. This is possibly due to the lack of other Grandaddy members on that album bar Aaron Burtch’s drums, which was otherwise recorded completely by Lytle during a frustrating period prior to the band’s break up.
Topping off the evening is the opening song from 2000’s album The Sophtware Slump. Lytle’s delicate falsetto over the fragile keyboard intro of ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot’ eventually builds to its epic denouement, that evokes an eerie post-apocalyptic landscape. The crowd isn’t about to give up without a final fix and an encore comprised of the lush loneliness of ‘So You’ll Aim Towards The Sky’ provides a fitting send off before ‘Summer Here Kids’ ends the set with a bang. Without a doubt one of the best gigs we’ve been to in years and definitely worth the wait.
El Camino’s in the West
The Crystal Lake
My Small Love
Now It’s On
Fare Thee Not Well Mutineer
Way We Won’t
Lost On Yer Merry Way
Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake
He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot
So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky
Summer Here Kids