A tour with Robyn Hitchcock in the early noughties aside, Grant Lee Philips’ solo material never really grabbed me the way his former band Grant Lee Buffalo did.
Mighty Joe Moon and Fuzzy are albums packed with songs that simmer with troubled scenes of personal-politics playing out in dusty desert towns and the American wilderness. Eventually, Grant Lee Buffalo would get swept up by the tidal wave of ‘Americana’ – so enthusiastically championed by the UK’s Uncut magazine – and then split soon after releasing their fourth (less raucous, more radio-focussed) album Jubilee in 1998. 2004’s Storm Hymnal Best Of kept the flame flickering for short while longer…
Sometimes you don’t even hear about a band’s reformation until they’ve completed e a European tour and then retreated from spotlight once more. That‘s what Grant Lee Buffalo did in 2011/12. It took a recent “Just For You” suggestion on MOG to alert me to a live album recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2011.
Comeback tours are often phone-it-in-for-the-dollars affairs or poor facsimiles of former glories. This is neither. Grant Lee Buffalo roar more than they ever did. My only gripe being the way crowd noise fades in at the beginning of each song and out at the end. This robs the set of continuity.
Still, Live at The Royal Festival Hall isn’t MOG- or MP3-only. CDBaby are selling the 90 minute show as a 550Mb FLAC bundle for US$8. Money well spent on a band dearly missed.