Concert review: David Gray at Lyric Opera House
Midnight Sun writer Patrick Gavin saw David Gray last night at the Lyric Opera House. Here is his review:
According to the latest census data, one-third of all white 30-somethings within city limits were at the Lyric Opera House for David Gray last night. If you think that's a bit high, it's probably because you haven't mailed your Census 2010 form back yet, you stiff.
I bring up the audience demographic not to mock (that much) but for a practical reason. In Sam's interview with Mr. Gray, the English singer/songwriter renowned for infusing his folk rock with electronic sampling described the perfect show as one in which audiences energetically join in for the anthemic songs and reverently ponder the delicate, introspective ones.
Of course, when you have a show at the Lyric, with its plush red seats that just beg to be parked in all night, you find yourself reverently pondering those melodic, anthemic numbers as well.
What choice do you have? Few can resist the appeal of a comfy seat at a concert or sporting event ...
For those who were compelled to rise up and boogie during Mr. Gray's set, a hushed whisper from an uptight boyfriend usually stymied such a display of unbridled enthusiasm. That is, until Mr. Gray encouraged all to stand for the fourth and final encore song, "Please Forgive Me," a closer on par with Mariano Rivera.
Musings on the "should-I-twist-and-shout-or-kick-back-and-nod" nature of the venue and crowd aside, let it be known that Mr. Gray was in top form. While favoring his latest, "Draw the Line," Mr. Gray cherry picked tunes from no less than seven albums during his near 19-song set. With so many albums and sellout tours, it's a wonder this was Mr. Gray's first stop in Charm City.
Mr. Gray's five-piece band's take on "Babylon," still his most enduring hit 11 years after its release, was indicative of the performance as a whole. He opted to eliminate most traces of his signature electronica influences in favor of straight acoustic rhythm guitar and electric lead guitar.
That's not to say that occasionally you wouldn't hear the synthed sounds of a phantom violin or a bit of trippy, reverb-soaked harmonica.
Mr. Gray also proved to be quite the host. In the early going he false-started on his new hit, "Fugitive," and wound up cooler for it, admitting, "Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and say 'that was just s--t.'"
Later he joked about plotting his set lists on a whiteboard and waiting until Baltimore to "be two people for the next few minutes" and unveil "Full Steam," a soaring duet with Annie Lennox (minus Ms. Lennox in concert, of course).
While his chart-toppers pleased and sent Mr. Gray into a frenzy of bobble-head Dave Matthews guitar dancing, it was the minor key, somber songs that provided performer and audience lasting catharsis.
During these subdued moments, I thought most about the lyrics and songwriter. Sure beats thinking about my feet, which no doubt would have been aching for much of the two-hour set had I been standing at a typical rock music venue. Maybe there is something to these snug opera seats after all.
1. First Chance (from Draw the Line)
2. Fugitive (from Draw the Line)
3. Be Mine (from A New Day At Midnight)
4. Stella The Artist (from Draw the Line)
5. Now and Always (from Life In Slow Motion)
6. Slow Motion (from Life In Slow Motion)
7. Jackdaw (from Draw the Line)
8. Sail Away (from White Ladder)
9. Nemesis (from Draw the Line)
10. Hold On (from Lost Songs)
11. Falling Down the Mountainside (from Lost Songs)
12. Ain’t No Love (from Life In Slow Motion)
13. Hold On To Nothing (from Sell Sell Sell)
14. You’re the World To Me (from Greatest Hits)
15. The One I Love (from Life In Slow Motion)
This Year’s Love (from White Ladder)
Full Steam (from Draw the Line)
Babylon (from White Ladder)
Please Forgive Me (from White Ladder)
(Photo by Phil Knott)