City of Roses
In a mostly-packed Pepsi Center last night, me and so many others were ready for a sentimentally rock-filled night.
Corey Harris opened up the show, strumming his acoustic guitar by himself and crooning his blues/folk favorites from his few independent releases. He had the stage for half-an-hour to himself, communicating with the audience all the while.
By 8:00, Corey thanked the audience and exited the stage, as David Gray took the stage at 8:30, which he sat down to his piano with the spotlight on him in front of a curtain and began keying the haunting piano tone of “The Other side”, his latest poem both grieving and honoring his late father, who died of cancer in 2001 and played this emotional ballad, singing his heartfelt and distinctive vocals until finally after speaking the second verse that kicks off the energy of the chorus, the curtain flung open and the rest of his band got into action with bright purple lights filling the whole auditorium, as he sung the chorus and the third verse passionately until the lights faded and again the light was on David himself, repeating the chorus with the haunting piano melody that closes the song.
After the somewhat somber opener, David said “Thank you Denver!” grabbed an acoustic guitar and kicked off another new tune from A New Day At Midnight that is lyrically somber but musically upbeat, “Dead In The Water” with turquoise, green, and white lights cascading all around him. The title track to his breakthrough album “White Ladder” followed, with energetic vocals from Gray, then another number from the album, My Oh My, followed, with much of the audience singing the refrain with him.
Afterward, following two more relaxing ballads, Gray again thanked Denver and warmed up the crowd with the beautiful uplifting “Real Love” which his friend and drummer McClure assisted vocals on, then climbed into their new Valentines Day friendly single, “Be Mine”, which had the whole crowd singing along. Another darker ballad, Nightblindness, followed the twin upbeat performances, with Gray playing himself accompanied only by the pleasant electronica, drum and keyboard mixes, and following it up with We’re Not Right.
Next, Gray said “This is one of our favorites, this is Long Distance Call” and strummed the soothing soulful yearnful ballad. Then, Gray grabbed a different acoustic guitar, paused and said “Last time we were in Denver, our promotional ad featured this big boat with my name on it, which he giggled then said “This next song has nothing to do with that, this is called Last Boat To America” and another curtain behind him opened up featuring the stars of the evening and Gray singing the heartbreak number.
Then, after that, David played a familiar tune on his guitar, then nodded his head with a smile as he played one of his older songs, the rocker Late Night Radio, then kicking right into another fast rocker Faster, Sooner, Now by the closing of the song which had the place go wild.
Then, Gray charmed the crowd with singing his original version of “Silver Lining”, the song which Bonnie Raitt remade and titled as her most recent studio album, a slow upbeat number shining with hope and relief with lights filling the auditorium representing his hook “Know that the light don’t sleep”. Gray followed that up with the beautiful love song Sail Away, which he passionately crooned the chorus to the best of his ability.
Gray then returned to some of his new material, starting with the bouncy song Kangaroo. He then stopped and said, “So are any of you folks from Australia?” and everyone cheered and David giggled as he followed that new song with another: December. Then, David told everyone to stand up as he started to open up his biggest hit, Babylon, which had the entire place rocking. After the exciting energetic performance, David and his band left the stage for a few minutes, then returning for an even more passionate encore.
He opened the encore with the piano love ballad This Years Love, which was written originally for an Irish movie but became a hit in Ireland shortly afterward. Following that up was his cover of Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me”, and then another classic from his archives, Hold On. Following that was Easy way To Cry, then perhaps one of his most sensitive and emotional performances of the evening, the powerfully heartaching Freedom, a song about noticing the world losing so much of its meaning and crying freedom.
Then, Gray started playing his most emotional performance of the evening, the long power ballad Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, which he played for nearly 15 minutes and improved with some of Van Morrison’s lyrics, then after exploding into the melody, he strummed his guitar solo and spoke of his father through improvisation and said teae-jerking lyrics of missing and yearning, but then kicked off the chorus again with the line “But it’s still a sweet sweet life, say hello, wave goodbye!” and repeatedly sung it with power.
Finally, David Gray saved the best for last, demanding everyone to stand up as he prepared his dance/discoesque hit Please Forgive Me, which had everyone dancing and singing along and the lights and the floor lighting up like a disco party. David Gray then bowed and left the stage, saying “Thank you, thank you, good night!”
If you haven’t yet listened to David Gray, please pick up some of his albums, he is a marvelous lyricist and soulful singer! He is among my favorites and an inspiration to my poetry and songs! Yay!!!
"Underneath your clothes there's an endless story..."