No Gray areas as David lights up Earl's Court

Review by James Raffoul

David Gray, Earl's Court - Saturday, December 7, 2002

THERE isn't a more pleasing sight than seeing David Gray in full swing. The infamous head movements, while strumming his guitar, show you that the music he is playing is flowing through his veins and that he is really really loving it.

And so he should be. His new songs are superb. White Ladder, the album that shot him to stardom, was largely written in his back room on scraps of paper, or at a bus stop, such as Sail Away, for example.

This time, A New Day at Midnight, has been given the top studio treatment and Gray has produced some fine melodic tunes that will surely be as successful as his previous songs.

I was a little sceptical as to whether he could pull off playing at Earl's Court at first. Last time I was there, watching Madonna, I spent most of the evening wishing I had brought a pair of binoculars - I was so far away. While the last time I saw David Gray, it was at Brixton Academy, where the near intimacy of that venue allowed him to bring the house down.

Thankfully, this particular Saturday night turned out to be no different.

A fine mix of old and new songs, including a couple from the Lost Songs Album, was delivered by a man at the top of his game. Not many people can captivate large arenas like he did, but his improvisation of a number of key tracks was awesome.

Where Madonna seemed flat, Mr Gray was definitely not. And while I know it's not fair to compare, as the two performances were completely different, I've decided to base this particular contest on playing the venue alone.

Babylon was delivered in a version I had never heard before; Please Forgive Me went on for hours, with the place absolutely buzzing; and Kangaroo (from his new album) was sublime, as was Be Mine, a great song with fine backing lyrics. One of my favourites, Shine, showed him at his acoustic best, but the icing on the cake (and to finish off his second encore) was a 10-minute version of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

It was a final song which caught many by surprise - and people were leaving their seats and half way out the door - as he normally wraps with Please Forgive Me. But when he re-appeared, people rushed back down the aisles and everyone at the venue rose for a fantastic rendition of a great song.

Supporting him on this occasion were Turin Brakes, who provided a great start to a brilliant evening.