He can wail in one bar then whisper in the next. He sings great, descriptive songs about places and things in America that I have never seen, and he can also write some of the most beautiful (and sad) love songs you'll ever hear. With his three piece band, he manages to make his 12 string acoustic sound like 3 guitars, and when he flicks on his little fuzzbox and starts soloing, the room fills with this enormous distorted, maximum reverb sound that just knocks you on your ass. It's so amazing, and you look up and Grant is up there flailing away on an ACOUSTIC GUITAR. It looks and sounds so cool.
Anyone who is a fan of Grant and/or Grant Lee Buffalo knows how great the songs are. He actually played a lot of older songs from the Buffalo days. Wicked arrangements that sounded perfect. When he came out for the encore, he played an incredibly strong, emotionally charged performance of "Demon Called Deception" by himself on the 12 string. It was amazing to see and hear him make that song even stronger than it already is.
And so you wanna know what I can't get my head wrapped around? Not quite a month ago I went to see Mark Kozelek at the same venue, and he was a total disappointment. I have a lot of respect for his songwriting, but he played with little emotion and no dramatic flare at all. The place was packed. And just last week we went to see the Swedish retro band The Sounds (again, same venue). Terrible band. Poor songwriting, absolutely no concept of playing together as a unified band. 100% image. Sold out show. Grant's show last night was maybe at half-capacity. And every single person there was transfixed. And then after the show he hung out at the bar and talked to people and signed stuff. Very casual and approachable. God bless Grant Lee Phillips.
Setlist (not in order, and i may have left out a few tunes):
Mockingbirds, It's the Life, Mighty Joe Moon, Demon Called Deception, Happiness, Honey Don't Think, Shining Hour, Jupiter & Teardrop, Fuzzy, The Hook, Truly Truly, Heavenly, Mona Lisa, Lily a Passion, Calamity Jane, Dirty Secret, Josephine of the Swamps, Drunken Angel (Lucinda Williams song), The Race Is On (George Jones song).
Billy, if you read this, go see him again if he comes to Seattle.
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