A rainy night in DC didn’t dampen the mood at the historic Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC on April 29. Fans of David Gray bustled in, eager to take their seats in anticipation of the performance. Gray, who recently announced the upcoming release of his tenth studio album entitled Mutineers, quickly sold out an eight-city theater tour throughout the U.S. that kicked off last week in Los Angeles. The tour compliments the upcoming album release (due out June 17), while also marking a partnership between Gray’s own IHT Records with Kobalt Label Services to promote the new album.
The performance was captivating, magical and sonically flawless. Gray clearly continued his legacy of delivering some of the most thoughtful and poetic lyrics, matched with equally stunning melodies.
Folk singer, John Smith finished the opening act, followed by drum and guitar techs who buzzed around the stage, tinkering with and testing quite a few instruments and microphones for Gray and the band. Lights dimmed, and a casually dressed David Gray took the stage along with seven other band members, some new and some familiar to veteran audience members. “So, I’m gonna play some new music now, starting with Gulls,” Gray said as he sat down to the piano to play one of the two tracks released so far on iTunes from Mutineers.
Gray played the entire new album live, introducing each song, as loyal fans cheered, shouted praise and applauded excitedly. Playing an entire new album could be a bold move for some artists, but for David Gray, everything about the night worked. A track called “As The Crow Flies,” built like a movie plot, starting quietly on piano and evolving into a beautiful, big tune. “That was unbelievable,” was whispered by audience members in awe of the new material. The band, which included Gray’s cellist, added an entire new sonic dimension with beautiful, layered vocal and instrumental harmony. After Gray finished playing the new album, he smiled saying,“and that’s what it feels like to be a Mutineer.”
Many things were obvious at this particular David Gray performance. More than anything, he emanated a liberated happiness, as if each new song was his child being introduced to the world. This performance was the kind where the audience felt as if they were sitting in Gray’s living room as dear friends. Gray joked throughout the evening, and responded with a humble smile to audience members shouting requests and verbalizing their adoration.
After playing an acoustic solo rendition of “Shine,” a crowd favorite, Gray continued with hits like “Fugitive,” “Kathleen,” and “You’re The One I Love,” which prompted audience members to jump to their feet, dance and clap. Once Gray finished his last song for the evening, the audience immediately gave a standing ovation.
Moments later, Gray and his band returned, playing an extended version of his breakout hit from the White Ladder album, “Babylon.” The audience remained on their feet for the entire encore, through the melodic tune “Sail Away With Me,” and “Nemesis.”
The performance was captivating, magical and sonically flawless. Gray clearly continued his legacy of delivering some of the most thoughtful and poetic lyrics, matched with equally stunning melodies. The audience could not help but mirror the sheer joy and raw emotion floating about the room. There is no doubt that Mr. Gray is back in the world in a really, really big way.