David Gray

David Gray brought everything you'd expect to his show last night at St. Denis Theatre – his often mocked head bobble and foot stamp, his gravely distinctive voice, his obvious passion for what he does – yet still I found myself unable to connect with this artist or his live show. At times my mind wandered off thinking about other things which is always a bad sign at a concert. Maybe it was because of his lack of stage presence coupled with the fact that he did not (until the final song of his encore) even attempt to connect with the audience. Maybe it was the fact that most of his songs are of the same tempo and when he lengthened some to play them live they all just ran into one another. One of the people I was with leaned over to me after a particularly prog rock style lengthy number and asked "Was that all one song?" Not a good sign.

From the time that the band's shadows were projected dramatically onto a white curtain and then it fell to reveal David Gray, dressed smartly in a three-piece black suit, and his four-piece band the most impressive parts of the show for me were the lights (really quite nice if a little too bright) and the fact that his voice sounds exactly the same live as it does on his albums. Which you would think is a good thing – meaning the boy's voice is not the product of a studio whiz – but really at times because of his lack of charisma I wondered why anyone would pay to come see him play rather than pop one of his CDs into a player.

His no-nonsense and very little chat with audience set went well over 2 hours so if you were having a good time you certainly got your money's worth. Don't get me wrong there seemed to be plenty of people who felt they got their money's worth at this show as the applause was generous and people were into it. Because Gray and his band (tight and great musicianship) were not very interactive with the crowd, they seemed to consign themselves to this and sat and merely appreciated rather than (what I prefer to do) be active participants. As opposed to playing their music for the fans it seemed like Gray and his band were playing for themselves, if you know what I mean. It was just one big jam session.

Against all odds (or so it seemed) the night ended on a high note. The third song of his encore set was the hit "Please Forgive Me" from Gray's most commercially successful album, 1999's "White Ladder". From the very first notes this songs was infused with an energy and tempo that was sadly lacking in the previous 17 songs. The entire audience (myself included) was up on their feet dancing and clapping along. Even Gray indulged in a vigorous round of clapping towards the end. I wondered where this side of the performer had been all night and left the venue thinking about what could have been.

The opening set was performed by Canadian solo artist Royal Wood. He, also dapperly dressed in dark pants, suit vest and red tie, made his way through a 40 minute set of music that was mellow and similar to the style that David Gray performs. A great fit stylistically.

Setlist:
1) Fugitive
2) Stella the Artist
3) Sail Away
4) First Chance
5) Be Mine
6) Now and Always
7) Jackdaw
8) Hold On to Nothing
9) Ain't No Love
10) Shine
11) As I'm Leaving
12) Babylon
13) You're the World to Me
14) Nemesis
15) The One I Love
Encore:
16) We're Not Right
17) This Years Love
18) Please Forgive Me

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