Another school night, another gig at the fabulous Crescent in York. Tonight was another excellent show from Northern Radar this time headlined by Isaac Gracie. But before I give you my opinion of Mr Gracie how about a big hand for the most amazing support act Matt Maltese. He has an album coming out in June and after seeing him play live that is a very, very exciting prospect. He is like a lounge version of Rufus Wainwright who wears his politics on his sleeve in 72 point bold font. “As The World Caves In” is an incredible song and a very worthy single, a copy of which I bought on the night. Matt’s between song bonhomie and sardonic wit is wonderfully original. I think perhaps that “Guilty” was my favourite highlight, but there were many, so that might change if you ask me again. I would unreservedly pay to see Mr Maltese again.
It would be somewhat of a cliché to say that I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, let’s face it Jon Landau said that about Bruce Springsteen in 1974. However I have seen a very bright future for British music in the shape of Isaac Gracie. Twenty One year old Gracie is a former chorister with the Ealing Abbey Choir. He first came to the attention of the music industry after “Last Words” a song recorded on GarageBand in his bedroom was unleashed into the world in 2015. His songs are far more mature than his years and on top of that he comes across as wonderfully affable and self-deprecating on stage. For me he has all the finest qualities of a young Jeff Buckley. I had the privilege of seeing Buckley at the Reading Festival many, many years ago and Gracie has the same qualities in his songs, performance, raw talent, passion and demeanour. Check out his cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” and the Arctic Monkeys “Fluorescent Adolescent” on YouTube and see the ghost of Buckley made real. My wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman doesn’t come to many gigs with me, but she was blown away by this one.
His first album is a truly accomplished début “Terrified”, “Last Words”, “Reverie”, “Running On Empty” and “Silhouettes Of You” all feel like classic songs that have been with you your whole life and Isaac played all of them tonight. There was not a single dud song in his set, my particular highlights were “All In My Mind” and the haunting song of sadness that is “Darkness Of The Day”. “Was our love a work of art, before the painting fell apart”, is that not one of the best lyrical couplets ever written? It is almost 46 years since I attended my first gig and there have been hundreds since then, but this is without doubt one of the finest shows that I have ever seen. If Isaac Gracie does not become a world straddling star then there is something horribly wrong with this planet.