Guitar music has had a difficult time in the past decade, never quite recovering from the years of landfill indie most of us were subjected to in our teens. So it seems a bit odd that a band, whose heyday came in the early noughties would be able to make it feel relevant once again. Jason Lytle and the rest of Grandaddy don’t strike figures of the cutting edge, with one pair of sweatpants and two trucker caps on show, but their signature brand of lo-fi melancholia, tinged with apprehension of what’s to come, fits perfectly with the times we are in.
The band takes the stage accompanied by projections of sparse, but beautiful landscapes of middle America, sometimes disturbed by large industrial buildings. These complement the music of Grandaddy very effectively, mirroring the forlorn beauty that their music often contains. They begin with a couple of “oldies… but goodies?” as Lytle describes them, and this comment is met with loud applause. There is little doubt that the crowd agrees and despite the delay and slight technical issues the audience are in the palm of Grandaddy’s hand, grateful that they chose Edinburgh to begin their European tour.
‘Evermore’ follows next, one of the best tracks from the comeback album Last Place. Here we see Lytle asking us to to “Grieve like a freeway tree” with “no love in your leaves”, showing that the band’s preoccupations with nature, and how it is being affected by the lifestyles we lead, have not disappeared. Perhaps this even gives greater meaning to the projections behind the band.
From here on in, Grandaddy’s impressive back catalogue takes control. Renditions of ‘The Crystal Lake’ and ‘AM 180’ follow, the later with an example of the band’s deadpan humour. During a brief break in the song Lytle plays a small guitar solo reminiscent of something out of a Thin Lizzy or ZZ Top song, but very out of place in a Grandaddy set. He then chuckles, asks the crowd if they like it, before restarting the song with the rest of the band, rolling waves of chords washing over the venue once again.
This is followed by the highlight of the whole night, and the closer for the first set, the ten minute ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot’. Beginning with a loosely tempoed keyboard solo, without doubt the most intimate and affecting moment of the set, the song ebbs and flows to it’s conclusion. A brief encore follows, containing the beautiful ‘The Boat is in the Barn’, and then the set came to an end.
A triumphant return to Edinburgh, although the nature of the music doesn’t leave you with the euphoric feeling that many gigs of this quality do. Perhaps ‘The Crystal Lake’ sums the feeling up the best, when Lytle sings “I’ve lost my way again”. After the events of the past year, I think this is something many of us can relate to.
Image Credit: Sonic PR