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Aidan Riddell’s review Granfalloon at the Golden Lion, 17th October 2019
The Golden Lion in Lancaster is beloved for its live music nights, where both touring acts and local talent can enjoy the pure pleasure of an intimate gig with a small but passionate audience. On Thursday the 17th October, I had the opportunity to come along and see a trio of exciting acts perform, as well as mingle with the artists themselves between sets, a pint of cloudy cider in hand. Sharing an evening of music and merriment with pub regulars and other indie enthusiasts reminded me of what supporting grassroots music is all about, and the enduring importance of the live scene in the digital age
The opening act, Martin Lloyd Chitty, a London-based Lancaster University alum, played an intimate set of atmospheric folk tracks from his 2018 debut album Antiques. The Only Perfect Love Song, a melancholic yet heart-warming narrative ballad, didn’t leave a dry eye in the house, and the wistful, dreamlike Alaska was one of my highlights of the evening. Martin’s songwriting abilities were showcased by his World War One centenary piece; a moving tale spun with all the conviction and transportive reality of a first-hand account of life 100 years ago. If you want to spend some time in the world of Martin Lloyd Chitty yourself, his album can be streamed for free on Bandcamp
Bringing the night to a close were the headliners, Anglo-German partnership Richard Lomax and Peer Van See of Granfalloon themselves. Rising stars in Manchester’s underground scene, their marriage of indie rock and folktronica sound just as vibrant live as it does in the studio, and their sophomore album RGB stands as one of my favourites of 2019 so far. Employing a varied, unconventional array of equipment including custom synths, drum machines and an omnichord, the band’s instrumental palette is experimental and refreshing, yet cohesive and accessible. Highlights from their performance included the airy, effortlessly entrancing Objects of Love, and the Aristophanes-inspired Lysistrata, which conjured a rhythmic, falsetto-driven, Thom-Yorke-esque state of hypnosis. Between songs, the band bantered back and forth with the crowd, and frontman Richard shared the amusing stories behind how he wrote songs such as The Elephant and Ambulance. Their set came to a bombastic close with the hard-hitting, politically charged protest song Year of the Rooster, a track whose deep guitar grooves, clacking percussion and swirling synths interlock with foreboding chants of “The end is coming” in fervent fashion.
Despite their current state of relative obscurity, and the scale of the venue, I wouldn’t hesitate to call Granfalloon one of the best live acts I’ve seen all year. Their instrumentals are meticulously crafted and performed with absolute polish and precision, their vocal dynamism could inspire envy in any of the current underground staples, and their songwriting competently spans from earworm-y alt-pop to the cryptic depths of oddball indie. This is very much a fully formed group who are just a small push away from broader recognition, and I could see them becoming a significant player in the UK in the coming decade. I would encourage any fan of Alt J, James Blake, Radiohead, or just alternative music, in general, to check out Granfalloon.