Little Noise Sessions: David Gray at Union Chapel
The British singer/songwriter took to the stage as headliner of the Mencap concert after curator Jo Whiley told of the difficulties disabled music lovers face when going to music events, due to curfews and the restrictive working hours of carers unable to accompany the vulnerable to late night gigs.
The raucous applause was followed by couples sidling up to one another at the intro of the symbolic and rhythmic Back in the World. Grays has a fan base some artists can only dream of.
Simple lighting made Gray and his band members the star clergy in this stunning setting; his folk-rock roots shone through with near perfect acoustics, more than able to carry his comfortably gravelly voice from pulpit to pew. Influences like Damien Rice were evident in echoing male/female collaborations and gospel-like vocal arrangements on Beautiful Agony, as were influences from modern folk bands such as Mumford & Sons on the haunting Gulls.
This is definitely not an old dog afraid of learning new tricks; using a variety of instruments throughout his set, the introduction of the melodious ukulele littered various songs. He joked that the acquisition of a ukulele completed his mid-life crisis. The Incredible showcased his ability to merge electro effects with his signature energetic piano playing, and cellist Caroline Dale’s soft but sure strokes shone throughout, creating a backdrop for Birds of the High Arctic, an ethereal yet foreboding track, which exploited the chapels acoustics.
We were taken from the cold rhythm the last track to the almost oriental sounds in Last Summer where the high and low notes of the piano gave way to slow strokes of the cello before being brought back to his familiar British folk sound in Cake and Eat It.
Gray seems to be on continuous journey of experimentation; the passion and energy brought forward was magnified by his strong, unrelenting vocals throughout, providing bursts of vitality from the only lull in the set, the lackluster Nemesis. Faithful classics Babylon and This Year’s Love finished off a fine performance from the charismatic musician.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information about David Gray and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Gulls here: