11:44 AM GMT 21/05/2013
"This one is called Jesus Hates Faggots. It requires no further explanation," says John Grant as Midlake introduce the controversially titled tune. There is an audience gasp from the audience who are seated in the pews of the Central Presbyterian Church on Austin's 8th Street. Then comes the applause.
The song itself is, as Grant points out, "one of the most Christian songs you could ever sing". He is of course right. The tune's message is one of tolerance, the title's invective delivered towards those whose fundamentalism turns to prejudice. That said, singing the song in a church is a bold move to say the least.
"There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to do the song," says Grant after the show. "If I couldn't sing here, then what would be the point of it?"
As an openly gay man whose religious upbringing has weighed heavy on him, Grant appears to have overcome some of the conflicts that engulfed him earlier on in his career. His road to redemption began with his move to Denton at Midlake's behest. There the five-piece helped him hone and record his solo debut, Queen Of Denmark - MOJO's Album Of The Year of 2010.
Tonight, Midlake are on stage with Grant for only the second time, allowing the album to be performed as it was intended and, from opener Sigourney Weaver onwards, their controlled presence provides the perfect backdrop and allows their friend's voice to soar. Grant's greatest champion, Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde, once described the man as having "one of the greatest voices in modern music today". Tonight is an affirmation of that.
If the soaring Sigourney Weaver provides the first goosebump moment of the night, then the reworking of The Czars' Paint The Moon is devastating in its beauty. Then comes the double whammy of Where Dreams Go To Die and TC And The Honeybear, both of which feature the consummate talents of Fiona Brice. On the first she plays violin, on the second she provides backing vocals and reaches the high notes that render the track both epic and supremely emotional. It is a high point in an evening which ends with a stunning rendition of the Queen Of Denmark's title track - a song made even more remarkable by a passing police siren that comes in right on queue during the tune's quietest moment and which miraculously appears to be in the same key as the song itself.
Grant and Midlake leave the stage to a standing ovation having reduced certain members of the audience to tears. It has been a quite overwhelming 40 minutes and one of the best shows your correspondent is likely to see this year or indeed in any other.
Photos: Piper Ferguson
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 5:28 PM GMT 19/03/2011