Saturday, January 24, 2015
State Theatre, Portland, Maine
Please pardon the delay. I have been snowed in for far too many days now. Seriously—FOUR of the last FIVE weekdays until today were snow days. My will to do anything productive has been zapped for a week now. I’ve shoveled, had tea and watched The Wire. Rinse and repeat. I was SO ready to leave the house this morning even though the roads were horrendous. I’d missed my students. I also don’t want to shovel again. Ever.
I was so excited when I saw that Britain’s London Grammar was coming to Portland. I’d seen them on KEXP and was BLOWN AWAY. Their show had been pushed from July to maybe October and then moved to the State Theatre in January. A lot of us had great expectations and had waited more than half a year to see them live. They were well worth the wait.
I’m glad Colin and I made it early to the State after an amazing Hey Rosetta! show at One Longfellow Square and got a good spot for show opener Until The Ribbon Breaks. I’d come across them on NPR a couple of weeks before the show with a first listen of their new album, A Lesson Unlearnt. It’s lyrically heavy and more electronic than I tend towards, but it’s an interesting and layered piece. Seeing UTRB was similarly theatrical and intense. Pete Lawrie-Winfield is a strong front man and the videos played in the background throughout their set made it a complete, dramatic experience. Pete experienced a myriad of tech issues on stage that keyboardist/bassist/vocalist James Gordon fixed for him a number of times. It added a bit of levity to their set.
Sophie and Kate arrived and found us in time for UK electronic pop trio London Grammar’s set. They were both strangers to London Grammar’s music, so I loved seeing their faces light up as they processed just what a treat they were in for. Sophie’s eyes widened as she mouthed “HOLY CRAP!” to me early on in the first song. That’s the London Grammar effect. Hannah Reid can’t be 25 years old yet, but her voice is ethereal and captivating. Hannah, Dan Rothman (guitar), and Dominic Major (keyboard/percussion) met early on while students at University of Nottingham and released their first EP in February of 2013. Their first full-length album, If You Wait, dropped in September of 2013. I was especially happy to hear “Hey Now” and “Strong” live. Everyone in London Grammar seemed humble and approachable. They interacted comfortably with the crowd and genuinely thanked us for our support. Hannah even pointed out a fan in the front row who’d attended all of their American tour dates and said how much it meant to the band to have such devoted fans. To say I was blown away by London Grammar live is such an understatement. I’ve struggled to find the words to talk about how amazing they are. Please check them out. I’m listening to them on repeat these days. See photos below!