Let’s Eat Grandma


Stepping from a bright Manchester afternoon into a blacked-out tent in the middle of Albert Square, I am soon joining the gathered crowd in applauding the on-stage arrival of the two young Norfolk musicians in Let’s Eat Grandma. The claps give way to complete silence as Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth take position in the near darkness at their respective keyboards, each set up either side of a laptop.

Friends from almost as long ago as they can remember, the pair recorded their debut album (I, Gemini, released last year) during multiple school holidays from the age of 14. I catch glimpses of their faces behind long hair as a slow, reverb-heavy beat, drones and pat-a-cake hand claps start to recreate ‘Deep Six Textbook’, the record’s introductory track.

Truth be told I’m not overly enthusiastic about the album, but, I don’t know, it is perhaps partly the increasing maturity of the performers, now in their late teens, that makes for an engaging live show in 2017. As well as the keyboards and programmed electronics, Walton and Hollingworth show off an array of instrumental talents: saxophone, glockenspiel, recorder, electric guitar and what looks like a tiple.

Vocally, there is no lead singer as such in that both sing different parts. The vocal performances that their school-age selves laid down on I, Gemini might grate on me a little at times, but not so today live. The intertwining lyrics from the two voices and even a solo rap on the danceable ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’ are a real pleasure to hear.

The eerie sounds and some of the spooky lyrics give the show an unsettling edge, and it’s in this context that stage antics like pat-a-cake and suddenly lying flat and motionless on the floor take on sinister undertones. Except for the occasional whisper between themselves, neither of the duo speaks a word between one song and the next, and this works well, adding to the tension and drama.

In the modern age the form of artistic expression that is most present in many of our lives is pop music, and Let’s Eat Grandma capture dream-state experiences in song and remind us never to lose altogether the adventure of childhood. Perhaps in a way they are one of the torch carriers that represent today the folklore that previous generations were given by the Brothers Grimm and others, feeding our 21st century imaginations whenever we take the time to listen.

(This all-ages matinee show, a joint headliner with Spring King, was produced by Manchester International Festival and presented by Sounds from the Other City & Now Wave.)

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Steve Jones

Apart from about five years in total, I've always lived in Manchester. Shame about the weather and lack of beach, but I do like it here. My all-time favourite gig would have to be The National at the Academy in about 2010, although I did get Matt Berninger's mic cable wrapped around my neck (that was a close one). My guilty pleasures include the music of Bruce Springsteen, and I also felt a bit bad for feeling such joy at seeing Counting Crows live in the early 2000s. I recommend Lifter Puller, a rather obnoxious and unpleasant-sounding band that I can't seem to get enough of, even though they are long disbanded. Amongst my Silent Radio gigs, I was blown away by John Murry. I'll let you know if anything tops that one.