David Gray gives colorful performance
When a performer receives a standing ovation just for walking out on stage, the show is destined for the extreme: it's either going to be an incredible experience or a total disappointment. So when fans rose to their feet just seconds after David Gray stepped onto the Riverside's stage Sunday night, expectations soared beyond the balcony.
Luckily, Gray delivered an intense, unpredictable show that -- along with opening act Aqualung who managed to provide a fresh set despite the fact he's played three times in Milwaukee with only one album under his belt -- gave the audience more than three solid hours of extraordinary entertainment.
Kicking off with "Alibi," "The One I Love" and "Sail Away With Me," Gray quickly established himself as a quirky, high-energy showman with a lighthearted demeanor that deeply contrasted his melancholy lyrics.
But the show became more impassioned with time. Halfway through, it felt like a milestone concert experience, especially when "Please Forgive Me" incited over-the-head hand clapping, "Silver Lining" induced swaying and "My Oh My" and "A New Day at Midnight" were fervently received.
Gray, who released his fifth album in September called "Life In Slow Motion," was the first artist signed to Dave Matthew's ATO Records.
As usual, Gray's drummer "Clune" contributed to the intensity. His manic, dramatic style of drum playing makes him appear more like a animated character than a real person, and his infamous Hawaiian shirt oddly juxtaposed Gray's simple black suit.
Overall, Gray's performance was extremely diverse, showcasing him as both melancholy keyboardist and blissed-out, head-bobbing guitar rocker. However, his joyful aura remained throughout the show, casting much-needed hope into his heavy collection.
The encore, which opened with beautiful versions of "This Year's Love" and "Shine," eventually moved into his mega-hit, "Babylon." It seemed like a contrived way to end the show -- despite the fact the audience was aching for it -- and very unlike Gray. However, after a fiery, new version of "Babylon," he squeezed out one more tune, a surprising cover of the Cure's "Friday I'm In Love," and ended on an unexpected and original note.
Because Gray has managed to cut through the clutter and speak to the masses -- from mainstreamers to artists -- many of his songs have anthem-like qualities, and it seems that in 20 years, having seen a David Gray concert will mean something. That, and his likeness to Van Morrison both vocally and stylistically, made the experience seem even more profound.
Jim said: I just recently started to listen to David Gray. I am a Marquette grad (long ago- '73)and since I became aware of David he has blown me away. A great concert. His songs can reach your soul and his concert sure did. Great performer, songwriter and vocalist. I wonder why he hasn't become known to the masses. II'm from Chicago, I never hear his songs on the radio.
Hersmile said: I've listened to him for years and loved the show. But here's a question - how does a city without a radio station that plays his music fill a theater? WUWM plays great music - including his - but why not a full-time format of new & different music? Or is it there and I just can't find it, lost among the local predictable (and boring, I'd say) radio offerings? Same as Summerfest - a lot of music I enjoy, but don't get to hear on the radio. How does that happen? Maybe I expect too much because the live venues' programming here does suit my taste really well. Lucinda Williams, Jonatha Brooks, David Gray ... etc.
worth said: The man's an absolute legend. Its the 6th time ive seen him live, but every time he puts on an inspiring performance from someone who performs with a passion and an energy ive rarely seen. Really gives me hope in the music industry in general. His songwriting has to be up there with some of the best. Thank god for British music. I miss London.
Kelly said: I was there! This was one the best concerts I have ever exsperienced. Not only was it a 2 hour ride with David, it was extremely intimate evening with him. I enjoyed his head turns, and his rapid foot tapping under his piano. Although I was in the upper balcony, he made me feel like I was first row center, I couldn't keep my eyes off him.
Cajones said: Pepe, it's a brave new world. Take a chance and go see an artist without someone spoon-feeding you about what you're gonna get.
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