David Gray at Royal Festival Hall
British singer-songwriter David Gray returns to London, playing the ever-magical Royal Festival Hall that perfectly captures the nuances in each track, performing an emotionally charged set.
Gray greets the crowd: “Hello London. Let’s start with some songs from Gold in a Brass Age.” Mallory, the first single from the LP, is a gently graceful start, long existing band member Tim Bradshaw providing the backing keyboard melodies. The artist’s vocals sound the same as when he started his musical career. Before performing Gold in a Brass Age, Gray thanks the audience again, and amiably states, “I feel like we’re amongst friends”, relaying the tenor guitar loops. Furthering incorporates an 80s influence, through the electronic pads, melancholia at its finest and one of the first highlights of the dreamlike set.
The singer vocalises into the tenor guitar, looping it back again, an interesting technique. Providing context to the unique album artwork – by London illustrator Rye Lanez – the singer cheekily dedicates It’s Late to daughter Ivy, a short and sweet rendition. The last of the new tracks 8 or 9 proves Gray still has enough material to carry on for years to come.
When delving into older material, Sail Away with Me (from White Ladder) cheers the crowd, bassist Rob Malone taking up the electronic cello and Gray shouting, “Oh c’mon”, good-humouredly urging a bigger applause. My Oh My exceeds expectations, a definite highlight, emotions evident in the singer’s earnest vocals, while Be Mine (A New Day at Midnight) is dedicated to pop enthusiasts, the catchy chorus revealing Gray’s Brit-rock influence. A solo rendition of Snow in Vegas follows Mutineers’ bonus track Last Summer, both plaintive and soulful; tonight’s ensemble works fluidly together, the songs flowing brilliantly. Continuing unaccompanied, the artist plays popular single One I Love, the band returning to perform Slow Motion and Silver, finishing off with one of the biggest hits of the 90s, Babylon, an absolute highlight, rippling with nostalgia.
Performing the sombre This Year’s Love, and brilliantly heartwarming Please Forgive Me – garnering the loudest cheer yet – Keith Prior’s drumming effortlessly pleases, while Bradshaw’s twinkling acoustic electric guitar strumming sends shivers, alongside Gray’s signature head bobbing and sweetly melancholic keyboard cadence; he truly lets himself go, thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Gray’s performance tonight shows a musician still at the top of his game, and a testament that he remains one of Britain’s most underrated singer-songwriters.
Photo: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit David Gray’s website here.
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