JOHN GRANT, Heaven – Evening Standard, 14 March 2013

John Grant’s London comeback show was a good-humoured, enjoyable affair, all things considered. “All things” including the 44-year-old Colorado singer-songwriter’s HIV diagnosis, which he revealed on stage last summer, and a break-up so painful that it dominates the bitter, angry songs on his second solo album.

Grant could teach the new Pope a few things about confession. On Vietnam he compared his former lover’s coldness to the chemical weapon Agent Orange.

On the softer ballad GMF he said, simply: “I am not who you think I am/I am quite angry/Which I barely can conceal.”

In a set largely comprised of new songs, he frequently abandoned the piano-led soft rock of his earlier work for a sparse, cold electronic sound that left more space for his rich voice and striking words.

If humour hasn’t saved him, it saved this show from self-pity. Over the gentle synth waves of You Don’t Have To, he recalled: “We walked the dogs and took long strolls through the park/Except we never had dogs and never went to the park.”

On the climactic Queen of Denmark, an argument raged: “You tell me that my life is based on a lie/I casually mention that I pissed in your coffee.”

He has his problems, undoubtedly, but presents them so remarkably that you can’t help feeling he’s making the very best of his situation.