Grant McLennan - Duchess of York, Leeds, June 1995

by Jennifer Nine
Melody Maker, July 15, 1995

"He's like that ex who never quite goes away. There you are, older and wiser, new haircut, saying "Nah, never would have worked"; there he is, waving those love songs like an ice cream scoop at your heart.

So it's probably safer that the room's full of boys. Boys talking excitedly about capos, surprising choice of, variability of sound produced thereby. Boys in the front row and the back; Grant giving 'em a nod of recognition or noting, "I know you know this one" as the rest shuffle jealously. As you meanwhile, waver in the blue-sky glow, suddenly thinking about the ex, shocked to remember how, for a long time, McLennan never wrote a song that didn't shine.

He shouldn't be allowed to sing these lilac-smelling songs to girls. We should listen to nothing but Led Zeppelin - how else will we remember how boys are? He shouldn't be allowed to begin with "When Word Gets Around", which rings your doorbell uninvited, makes unfulfillable promises of "we'll keep it together" as the air fills with invisible violins. Or the absent oboes you fill when a stately-prowed "Bye Bye pride" (as glorious as you remember it, maybe more) sails past. He fishes up love songs - "Right Here," "Haven't I Been A Fool," "Lighting Fires" - that, literally, tell the violent messy truth, but, emotionally, makes bouquets of recriminations, falling stars out of pain, and leave you clutching if-onlys: "whatever I have is yours, and it's right here."

I should probably forget tonight: round, red-faced Grant simultaneously anechdoting and making the guitar tech snap briskly to attention; slouch-bassist Phil Kakulas' sardonic grin; blonde guitarist Anna Burley swaying as Grant similes like he did at Amanda before Go-Between shows became domestic spats. But, a biting, spark-striking "Was There Anything I Could Do," crisp as fresh tenners, stubbornly refuses to let me say I don't care about Grant McLennan's sweet-poison sounds any more.

Or that, you know, I've learned my lesson about love songs."