Watching David Gray on Saturday evening at the De La Warr Pavilion I was reminded of that old adage, “You get what you pay for”. The sold out crowd were obviously happy to pay top dollar to be there and were rewarded with over two hours of quality entertainment.
I think the only reason David Gray eventually stopped playing was because the house lights were coming on between songs, during his encore. Maybe that was a subtle hint from the venue’s staff, as it was already past 11 o’ clock?
This musical marathon started with, ‘Birds of The High Arctic’, which set the stall out for what was to follow. A song of light and shade, that starts softly and builds in intensity, it helped showcase the dazzling light show (which was used very effectively throughout), the quality of the backing band (which even included a cello player) and the very good sound.
As expected the bulk of the set, especially early on, came from the excellent 2014 album ‘Mutineers’, including that opening number, not that that bothered the crowd who all seemed to be die hard fans. This was one of only six gigs performed by the band in the UK, during this tour, so I suspect some had travelled from afar for this gig.
It wasn’t just the fans enjoying themselves either. David Gray’s infectious enthusiasm, typified by his distinctive wobbly head movements, spread to his whole band and beyond, creating a warm atmosphere.
The evening was akin to a journey across his 21 year career, as he revisited track one, ‘Shine’, from the 1993 debut album ‘A Century Ends’, cruised through songs from the seven million selling ‘White Ladder’, and included the opening track, ‘Back In The World’ from this year's ‘Mutineers’.
Naturally, the high points of the show were those familiar hits, the first of which ‘Sail Away’ found the audience in fine voice. For me another stand out track was the powerful ‘Nemesis’, from 2009‘s ‘Draw The Line’, which evolved into an intense ten minute epic.
There was even room for a short solo set which included ‘Babylon’. I couldn’t help thinking that it’s a brave and confident musician who plays his biggest hit on just an acoustic guitar. David Gray obviously knows his audience far better than me though, as this produced the biggest sing-a-long of the night.
This momentum carried on to the last song of the main set, ‘Please Forgive Me’, which had the whole audience on their feet and David Gray himself ‘throwing some shapes’ as if on the dance floor. This may have been brought on by the rave like quality of the songs finale and the accompanying lighting display.
A storming rendition of ‘The One I Love’, and those aforementioned house lights, finally brought a close to procedings. I had been told by a friend, prior to the gig, that David Gray was well worth seeing live and now I know why.
A set lasting over two hours, in the company of some bands and musicians, would not be anywhere near as enjoyable as this night was. Maintaining the momentum and intensity of a live show, over such an extended period of time, is no easy task, but David Gray and his band did that with ease, to the obvious delight of all those lucky enough to have been present.
I think it’s safe to say that, on this particular evening, every member of the audience got their money’s worth.
Find David Gray at: davidgray.com