British trio, London Grammar surprised fans when they announced a secret show at the Forever Hollywood Cemetery, Masonic Lodge, a fortnight before their show. Fans had to sign up on the band’s website before they were later given a link to purchase tickets.
Taking advantage of their first appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the band played a sold out show at the Masonic Lodge on Monday. They offered old favorites such as “Wasting My Young Years,” “Hey Now” and “Metal and Dust” from their 2013 debut LP If You Wait, as well as several new tracks from their as yet unnamed sophomore effort.
When we first saw London Grammar, it was four years ago and only a month after they had released their debut LP, If You Wait. They hadn’t even done their first U.K. tour yet, kicking off their official first tour in America, at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.
Frontwoman, Hannah Reid, back then appeared cool. Sangfroid even, as she sang of ‘wasting her young years.’ In between songs, however, her lightness and ease with the audience; as well as the cheeky banter between bandmates, struck a nice balance. And made a lasting impression.
Tonight, after a walk through the crowded room of fans to get to the intimate stage, the trio which includes Dot Major and Dan Rothman settled on stage and opened with a cover of French, house artist, Kavinsky’s “Nightcall.” It was delivered with the same poise and intensity that have always been their calling card. And in their customary playful banter: “It’s so special to be back in America. Dot broke his collarbone,” Reid announced after the song.
She went on to tell the story of how she tried not to worry when he told them that he was going snowboarding two weeks before they were expected in America. And then he apparently, she said: “Flew like superman down a slope. And we’re now traveling with a drummer that looks like him. And Dot should feel threatened.” Major was still on hand to work the keyboards. However, the multi-instrumentalist normally also plays the drum pads and djembe.
Next, another 2013 track “Flickers” followed. However, it's their big hit “Wasting My Young Years” that really is the night’s first standout. Rothman’s twangy guitars and Major’s moody keys, the perfect foil for Reid’s pitch-perfect choir girl vocals.
However, having been away from the limelight, they did also have false starts. Twice Reid missed her cues. Both times, on new songs from the upcoming album: "Rooting For You" and "Big Picture." Reid apologized and self-deprecatingly offered: "Hi! We're London Grammar. We're not very talented. We play a lot of wrong notes all the time. But we put our heart and soul into it."
That, they did. Their mistakes only endeared you closer to them. And when Reid does get it right, the performance is nothing short of stunning. Her sweet spot is when she glides effortlessly from lower octaves to the higher registers, with the most heavenly of head tones. Like on "Rooting For You," when she hits the Everest of notes, it sounded like a choir of angels had descended. There was a whiff of Adele but without the showy vocal acrobatics and a tone that resonated with genuine emotion.
She revealed that when they went into the studio to write their sophomore album they said: "No more sad songs and high notes," thankfully they didn't adhere to that. "Hey Now" another stellar cut from their debut followed and was pitch perfect. Reid carried on in fine form right up to their encore of “Strong” and “Metal and Dust,” also absolute standouts. The latter built up like a rave anthem and closed the night on a high for everyone. More eager than ever for word of their new album.
Hell to the Liars
Rooting For You
Metal and Dust