- Article by: Troy Akers, Photo by: Troy Akers
- Posted: 05/20/2011
The audience fell silent as Griffin House took the stage of the 1920s-era Belcourt Theatre Thursday night. Easing into their soft, vintage seats held up by years of covertly discarded chewing gum, the crowd zoned in on the only two things on stage—a musician and his guitar.
The set began with a solo spotlight dancing on House’s shoulders and guitar. The banter of an inebriated woman a few seats down from me prattled on in the background as House softly opened the set with “Live To Be Free” from his 2010 release, Flying Upside Down.
Casually leading into “Better Than Love” a few songs later, he set the stage for a night focused solely on music, a night without the comfort of amps or a band to cover any potential mistakes.
A man of many stories, House broke the set to relay a tale that has become a staple for his shows. He spoke of his 93-year-old grandfather, a character and a key element in the story behind his song “I Remember (It’s Happening Again),” a war song from Flying Upside Down.
As a young child, Griffin was made to believe he was privy to a dark secret from his grandfather, a World War II veteran. The older gent led young House to believe for many years that he had been the one to kill Adolf Hitler.
And to add a pinch of believability, House’s grandfather claimed to have a memento stored away in his back pocket for proof—the tyrant’s mustache.
Endearing stories like this one glistened throughout the night, creating a smooth channel of honesty between artist and audience.
Highlights from the night included a walk down the road of House’s influences and a subsequent crowd sing-a-long to Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire.”
During one segment of his set, House was joined on stage by his friends from the Nashville collective Ten out of Tenn. Matthew Perryman Jones added to “Tell Me A Lie,” a song that made it on two of House’s records, Upland and Lost & Found. Then Katie Herzig lent her beautiful harmonies to “Dance With Me,” without shadowing House’s lead, which made the song itself seem like a dance.
After an hour of music, House stepped off the stage for his formal exit, only to return once again to the rumble of the traditional Nashville encore. He played an eery anthem called “Judas,” explaining that his interest in the biblical betrayer led him to write a song with the same name. Singing the line “Someone had to be me” from the perspective of Judas, House sucked the breath out of the room.
By the time he strummed into “The Guy That Says Goodbye To You Is Out Of His Mind,” I found myself singing right along with the inebriated gal a few seats down. And, hey, if all the apocalyptic prophets of this week get their way and the world does end Saturday at 6 p.m., I’m glad this was my last show on earth.
Oh, and if there’s a stage in heaven, Griffin House, I’m calling on you to play first.
Griffin House - Tell Me A Lie (Live at Imogene + WIllie)