There's no gray for David,he's strong throughout
Agannis Arena, Boston, Oct. 9, 2005
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - A few things changed for David Gray in the course of recording his strong new disc, "Life in Slow Motion."
Instead of self-producing, he hired Marius DeVries, who has worked with the likes of David Bowie, Madonna and U2.
And instead of recording on a low-key scale, Gray went for a full-fledged studio sound.
No matter where or who Gray recorded with, when it comes to doing it in concert, that proved no problem for Gray during a 105-minute show before a packed arena.
Gray, dressed up in a white shirt and dark suit, focused his attention on "Life in Slow Motion" and "White Ladder," his breakthrough disc from 1988. He played 9 of the 10 songs from the new disc and half of "White Ladder." Even if unfamiliar with Gray's material, that would have been no problem. His music rather easily hooks the listener in. Gray alternated between piano, which he plays very well, and acoustic guitar while always singing with power.
The British singer/songwriter possesses one strong, fully-realized voice. From beginning to end, Gray's vocals were upfront and powerfully commanding. There was no need to worry about the band (a very fine sextet including cellist Caroline Dale and strong and intense timekeeper Craig McClune, colorfully decked out in Hawaiian shirts) dwarfing Gray. No chance of that.
Gray often explores the emotions of relationships and love in his lyrics. Perhaps the most powerful song of the evening was "The Other Side," written in response to the death of his father, which seemingly left many relationship questions in Gray's mind. The intensity of Gray's delivery was clearly palpable.
Other strong songs were the new radio hit "The One I Love," "Hospital Food" and especially "This Year's Love."
Gray's songs tend to almost always follow the same formula - starting off soft and spare musically with his vocals delivering the song before both kick into high gear. The songs had enough meat on the hoof so this didn't detract, but more variety would have been welcome as after awhile, it was predictably only a matter of time before the music and vocals both picked up.
"This Year's Love" was the most rocking song of the night. A few more changes of pace would have been welcome.
Gray was clearly appreciative of the reception he received from start to finish, often thanking the crowd. Though one wishes he would have talked a bit more, thus perhaps connecting with the crowd even more.
Interestingly, Gray closed the show with "Babylon," his biggest hit. He had said in a Boston Globe interview published the day before he was done playing it. But lo and behold, Gray closed the evening with "Babylon."
For Gray, the song wasn't a matter of going through the motions either. "Babylon" proved to be a fine ending to a powerful show.