Home / Concert Reviews / Midlake w/ John Grant and Jason Lytle @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Midlake w/ John Grant and Jason Lytle @ Turner Hall Ballroom

May 24, 2010

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With their moody lyrics, bustling flutes and sublime guitars, the Denton, Texas, band Midlake has spent years refining their sound, moving from one musical world to another. Given their studied nods to the Flaming Lips, Fleetwood Mac and English folk-rock, it could be tempting to label them as simple revivalists of whatever style they’re listening to, but on recent albums the seven-piece band has come into its own, creating a multi-dimensional sound filled with riveting rabbit holes into their own music timeline.

On Monday night, the band made their long-awaited return to Milwaukee. Combining a grand procession of electric and acoustic guitars, flute and drums with singer Tim Smith’s commanding voice, the band strolled from there into a set drawing largely from that album (including “Children of the Woods,” “Rulers, Ruling All Things” and “Acts of Man”) as well as about half of the songs from their breakthrough 2006 album, The Trials of Van Occupanther (“Young Bride,” “Bandits” and “Head Home”).

Midway through the set the band launched into an epic mind-numbing jam that rollicked along, followed by one of the band’s most popular songs, “Roscoe.” The band kept the fire burning into their encore, which featured “The Courage of Others” and “Branches.”

The band pulled out all the stops in breathing even more life into the songs and in the process throwing the audience more and more into their world. Everything hit harder—even their hardest-rocking song, “The Horn,” which milked a climbing guitar riff. The band exercised their musical muscle, going from double-flute-driven English folk and sweeping folk-rock songs to epic guitar-driven statements that might have made early Fleetwood Mac proud (their organic, flowing songs evoked Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees).

The evening’s openers featured a good helping of powerful acoustic and piano/keyboard-driven songs. John Grant, who recorded with Midlake for his latest album, The Queen of Denmark, provided the audience with some humorous and revealing songs/stories, including a song about Sigourney Weaver and a story about a drug dealer. Jason Lytle, known best for his work with Granddaddy, provided a short but sweet set featuring a few new songs mixed with older ones, mostly on acoustic guitar.

Photo by CJ Foeckler