Singer-songwriters such as James Grant are tasked with the difficult job of keeping an audience entertained with merely a voice and a guitar, but James Grant proves in this hour-plus-double-encore long show that he should be regarded among the best, as he rattles through a smattering of his original music, swinging from mood to mood with consummate ease and interspersing it all with some wonderful tales from his illustrious career.
Grant is perhaps most well known for his work within Weegie rock band Love and Money, who supported such legends as Tina Turner, Simply Red and BB King and as such the otherwise dull guitar-tuning interludes were filled with hilarious recollections of the highlights of his career with the band, to such an extent that it was possible to see him making a career of dead-pan humour, such was his comic timing.
The highlight though was, of course, his music. Grant possesses a sultry bass-baritone which soared into the hearts of each and every audience member from the very first number, ‘Devil’s Dare’, which was one of his newest numbers and reflected the continuing musical maturity of the man, as it was one of the most melodically intricate and lyrically poignant songs of the evening. He also demonstrated a high level of capability in the higher parts of his range and in particular the tone to his falsetto was frankly magical. Combining this with his effortless dynamics, highly accomplished guitar playing an occasional brilliant moment of pure a cappella, this was the best showcase of original music this reviewer has seen this Festival.
His tendency to ‘talk pish’ led to the show going on for a quarter of an hour longer than scheduled, but no-one in the audience cared a jot – indeed, the resulting standing ovation was testament to this wonderful performance and no less than Grant deserved.