Alistair Griffin – Tour of Absolution

Saturday 27th February 2016

The Forge, Camden, London, United Kingdom

On a breezy February evening I traveled to the heart of Camden for a show at a venue which has actually only just gone on my radar; The Forge. As I exited the Tube station I became quite disheartened as I went past the world famous and iconic Jazz Cafe. The venue was purchased by another company and they had decided close it for refurbishment with a reopening scheduled for May. Luckily, other intimate venues nearby keep Camden’s live music heart beating on a Saturday night.

The Forge is a great example of this with its black entrance that blends in with the nearby shopfronts not doing it justice. On entry to the venue I noticed how welcoming it was with its upstairs food cantina restaurant that specializes in a mix of Cuban/Mexican cuisine and the subtle stage lighting that complements the pastel colours.

The seated audience was absolutely packed on the ground floor where the stage is located and we were lucky to grab a comfortable sofa. The act in question was singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin who has released his new EP ‘Eye of The Beholder’ and album ‘From Nowhere’. To support these releases, Alistair was touring around the UK in early 2016 and decided to end the trip in London.

Alistair had some very interesting gig merchandise including framed and signed lyric artwork, EPs, albums, mugs and his signature lemon curd. Yes you read that correctly, lemon curd which he makes himself and deposits into branded jars. They are quirky and fun products which are reasonably priced. Keep up the good work.

Alistair Griffin

Walking onto applause, Griffin and his fellow band mates Dave and Joe launched into their set with new song ‘Greatest’ and immediately the crowd began singing the chorus back to Alistair. It was melodic pop at its finest and got the evening off to a cracking start. ‘Willow Girl’ was a tender track and Alistair told us of the song’s origins ‘It’s about a Chinese restaurant in York which has since closed.’ Some people are inspired by heartbreak, some are influenced by love whilst others find inspiration in dim sum. Nothing wrong with that!

Here is one thing I would like to understand; maybe it is because I attend a lot of live music shows so I notice it a bit more than the average punter but what is it with people who insist on having loud, irrelevant conversations at gigs with no regard for others around them who have paid good money for a show? I’m really sorry but YOUR name isn’t on the ticket and I really couldn’t give to hoots about Barry’s new leaf blower or Sue’s package holiday to the Costa Del Sol. Luckily, the venue security asked said individuals to leave but it is frustrating.

‘Blinding Lights’ is a fast-paced electronic number which for the purposes of this tour was stripped down as an acoustic number and it really did work well in this setup. At times, Alistair Griffin at times is the songwriters’ songwriter as his material is so radio-friendly and relateable. It probably has other songwriters going ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

One of my favourite songs of his is ‘Just Drive’ which has been used as a theme for Formula One and various other sporting events thus securing Alistair an army of fans due to the song being heavily synced on television. It is definitely one  of the best driving songs and it is up there with Train’s ‘Drive By’ and it was well received in the room.

Giving the band a break, Alistair treated us to a solo segment which featured ‘I Wish For You The World’ which was well-played but a bit syrupy for me. Although having said that it would work well in a British romantic comedy film. ‘Now imagine you are watching a John Lewis advert which has an interpretation of a cover’ Griffin explained. He then went into an emotionally charged ‘She Loves You’ and it was incredible.

‘I Have Lived’ is an old favourite and the line ‘and my sixth wife will tell the gathered crowd now please don’t cry’ for me always conjures up images of Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII and his six wives. One performer I could never really understand but respect as a songwriter is Bruce Springsteen and when Alistair decided to do his take on ‘Fall Behind With Me’ (which he learnt for a wedding) it is clear why Springsteen’s work has stood the test of time.

As it was the last night of the tour, Alistair wanted to ‘revive a song from his greatest hit collection’ and treated us to ‘Bring It On’ which was requested by an audience member. You may remember the song from that show television programme Fame Academy where they mixed elements of Pop Idol (music contest) and Big Brother (a group of people living in a house) and it does remind you of the late 90s/early 2000s.

As he thanked his band, the tour organiser, the venue, the soundman and the audience it was ‘The Road’ which was a highlight for me as it was a song that Mumford and Sons wish they’d written and his approach to a Crowded House track was stunning.

In conclusion, Alistair Griffin is a welcome return to a live setting with a talented band and classy material. This loveable lad from Yorkshire has done well.

Alistair Griffin

Glenn Sargeant

Alistair Griffin’s new EP ‘Eye Of The Beholder’ and album ‘From Nowhere’ are both out now on Elbow Grease Records. For more information visit Alistair’s website here: