Coincidentally, I was asked to check out Grand National at Hiro within a week of hearing their name being dropped in several conversations at various parties. I was immediately intrigued. I heard they were English guys making danceable pop music. English and danceable are keywords to immediately spark my interest. So when the opportunity came up to see these guys live, I quickly agreed even though they were playing at Hiro, known for late night performances, overly confident New York transplants and extremely overpriced drinks. Ready to spend more money than my wallet can afford on drinks in order to numb my exhaustion away, I walked into a half empty room as Beat Radio neared the end of their set. The few people there I imagine were friends of the band, bopping their heads with drink in hand. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten my first drink yet, so I was alarmingly sober and quite aware of the music being played. They knew how to play their instruments but I was immediately bored. I was hoping that they were no indication of where the night was headed. Fifteen minutes later, the scene at Hiro became what I was used to, the roomed was packed and full of familiar faces.
Everything seemed to be falling into place . . . I have a drink in hand, cute ex-boyfriend walks by as I am schoomzing it up with a cute guy. Just as things felt better, I pull out my camera as Grand National gets up on the small stage. At the sound of the appealing British accent coming from La Rudd and Ruppert with band aid on right cheek, I pull out my digital camera, aim and attempt to shoot when I get confronted with a nasty “Battery is low” followed by “Camera is shutting down.” I try not to freak out as the sound of the rhythm guitaring begins and La’s vocals come in singing “I blame it on myself cause I can't keep anything down, anything down, . . “ opening their short but sweet set with “Talk Amongst Yourselves.” Halfway through the song and I already know these guys are hype-worthy, they sound amazing. As I am grooving to the music, I look around and see a few people in the room mouthing the words as the sway their bodies along to the music, even Beat Radio’s lead singer is looking on with a giddy look on his face that spelled out “When I grow up I want to be just like them.”
I pray for a small miracle and pull out my camera hoping my wish be granted and am able to take at least one picture . . . the power of wishful thinking and positive energy in the room got my wished granted and quadrupled. I was able to take a few shots throughout their performance. I had read that La and Rupert used to perform Police covers back in England prior to forming Grand National and didn’t think that would translate to part of their current live performances. So it was a pleasant surprise when La ended “Talk Amongst Yourselves” with “Roxanne you don’t have to put on the red light!” La’s adoration for the Police works. It was endearing to have him hold a torch for his favorite artist like that and it also showcased La’s beautifully full and smooth vocals. The crowd was excited and the room felt fuzzy and yes I was sober. Was it possible we were all falling in love with the band at the same time? I guess anything is possible nowadays. La announces that the full band will be performing at Bowery Ballroom on March 11th and winks at the crowd. Will most of us be there? Uh, absolutely. The three of them continue their set in full acoustic swing and I could not be happier to be there. Grand National worked the crowd perfectly, opening and ending their set with a bang! As the set came to an end with “Playing In The Distance,” they worked their song into an acoustic mashup and worked their way into New Order’s “Blue Monday” . . . Brilliant!