US - California - Full Moon 94 - 06/03/04
The Corner Hotel, Richmond, Melbourne, 8.5.04
I was plagued by indecision when I saw that Grandaddy were due to play in Melbourne. The band's
three albums are lovely, and I'm especially fond of their debut, but there's something about the
records that suggested they might not be able to pull it off live: the ramshackle, sighing arrangements;
Jason Lytle's tentative vocals; the spiralling synths.
Grandaddy manage to be so charming on record simply because they sound like they've just crawled
out of bed and, aw shucks, they're going to play some songs they made up now. They appear to be modest,
retiring men who are preoccupied with nature, technology and growing old gracefully. Four-fifths of
the band have beards for christ's sake! I decided to get a ticket partly because they seem like such
nice normal guys, and it's always a delight to watch seemingly average people create magic onstage.
Sadly it wasn't to be. They succeeded in pleasing a lot of the crowd by playing all the 'hits',
including "Summer Here Kids", "AM 180" and "The Crystal Lake". However, it wasn't the songs that
were the problem - I know and love them all. It was the way they were all reduced to lowest common
denominator guitar fuzz, power chord after power chord chundering along against a prosaic rhythm
section. Grandaddy's songs are simple, but good. Live they are stripped of all their subtleties and
exposed as three or four chords and some predictable vocal melodies. I felt cheated!
Were my expectations too high? Who knows. All I know is what could have been a pleasant surprise
ended up being a mild disappointment. My advice: stick to the albums.
Copyright © 2004 Tim Clarke
Photo © 2004 Sampo Sikiö