#nowplaying Grant Lee Buffalo – Live at The Royal Festival Hall


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.

Further Information: CDBaby | Grant Lee Phillips 

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. Listening now. Totally stoked. I agree on all points. Love Phillips solo stuff but Mighty Joe Moon still remains of my favorite recordings of all time. Thanks again! I’m so glad to hear the same brute fuzz and subtle changes that made those Grant Lee Buffalo records so unbelievably memorable are still evident in this live recording. Sick sick sick guitar tone.

      • Have listened to all 19 tracks many times over and did I mention a bit earlier, some thing about tone!!?? Lordy. Skill-saw shrieks. The band has such an ear for equipment and nuance and poise and some of the most searing guitar tone ever. From the live set at Festival, in “Demon Called Deception” … from 2:00mins to the end? The lead guitar work is the stuff of sonic legend. Man … and it’s *precisely* that vibe/sound/feel that you can hear on MJM … which to me, more than any thing reveals that as well as rock … this is *craft* to the players and they have written something that they aim to maintain; and, so they have. So so rare of a thing. Just after that track … in “Lady Godiva” … they transform down into a subterranean and sweet and tortured beast that, instead of screams, … is carried by real story and writing and Grant’s effortless tenor narration. At least till 2:57mins or so … when the screaming starts anew. And so fine of a wailing… thanks again for broadcasting this. Myself and a few close friends have enjoyed the listening… rock. .j

  2. Thanks for pointing this out. I love Mighty Joe Moon. Downloading this now and can’t wait to give it a spin.