It's a shame, but a truth: Commercially, Midlake's February-released The Courage of Others has been a disappointment. Still, as affecting albums go, the disc remains a monumental achievement—something of a depressing, '70s British folk-inspired one, but an impressive one nonetheless. There's no way around it: When listening to Courage, it's nigh impossible to not be swept into a somber state, led there by the band's tender, impeccably delicate playing. Live, though, it's another matter entirely. The band's more likely to make your jaw drop with their well-practiced, perfectly timed performance than make you curl up into a ball and contemplate your place in life. And this show should be no different—especially since (given the aforementioned commercial disappointment) the show's been moved out of Dallas' Palladium Ballroom and into the far-more-intimate Hailey's Club venue in the band's hometown of Denton. In turn, expect a celebratory, welcoming affair. Denton may be at times too congratulatory when it comes to praising hometown products done good, but in Midlake's case, the adoration is more than merited. And the band should welcome it with open arms: At one stop on this tour, a chunk of the band's gear was stolen; at another, they had to chase down an evildoer intent on stealing the Texas license plates off their van.
Former frontman of The Czars, John Grant, opens the show, only adding to the night's inevitably festive feel. Grant, after all, recorded his solo debut, Queen of Denmark, at Midlake's Denton studio, backed by Midlake players who all too willingly adorned the disc with folk-inspired fare. Appreciative of their assistance (and their helping him out during a particularly dark, suicidal time in his life), Grant touted the album as a "John Grant with Midlake" release upon its arrival in April. And though Midlake won't back Grant on stage, a slew of other Denton-based Midlake collaborators, all of whom have served as Grant's backing band throughout the bill's U.S. run, will.