David sang that it’s been a long time coming and it certainly has been a long time gone for Mr Gray. Three years after A New Day At Midnight, David has finally brought out an excellent new LP Life In
Slow Motion and is clearly pleased to be out of the studio and on the road testing out the new songs and reinterpreting a
few golden oldies.
David and his five piece backing band
began the set with an excellent version of Alibi, the opening song on the new LP and proceeded to play most of the Slow Motion
album during the evening. Other highlights from the new material included Hospital
Food, which is one of the catchiest songs he’s ever recorded as well as The One I Love and the more acoustic From Here
You Can Almost See The Sea.
The older songs played were almost
exclusively from his massive breakthrough album White Ladder with sadly only one track (Freedom) featured from A New Day At
Midnight. We were however treated to one item much further back in his catalogue
– a superb solo version of Shine from his debut LP in the early 90s.
The highlights of the White Ladder
songs featured were the big hits including the anthemic, crowd-swaying Sail Away and an encore of David’s best-known
song, the brilliant Babylon. Best of all for me though was a rolling Please Forgive
Me with superb drum work by Gray’s extrovert, Hawaiian-shirted stickman Clune.
Here is a man who clearly loves his job and is exceptionally good at it to boot – his innovative, brushed, percussive
playing on PFM and several other songs sound more like a gently-used drum machine than a conventional kit.
Clune apart, David and the rest of
the ban are more introverted. None of them are virtuosos but they are all very
good, understated musicians, working together to create the keyboard-heavy glacial soundscapes which Gray has favoured on
his last two albums. In doing this, there was much instrument changing including
good use of unusual instruments such as harmonium and lap slide guitar to create the right musical texture.
There was much less instrument swapping
but absolutely brilliant guitar-work from the support act Rodrigo Y Gabriella. A
young instrumental duo from Mexico City on flamenco guitars, their frenetic strumming was superb as was their incredibly
dexterous "percussion" caused by brushing the bodies of their guitars with their fingers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a support act leave to such a rapturous ovation. Rodrigo Y Gabriella were a very welcome departure to the turgid indie band with a bad sound mix which usually
constitutes the support act at a gig. Less inter-act clearing up work for
the roadies as well...
All in all then an excellent gig. It’s been a long-time coming but the wait has been worth it…