Anna Roberts, fresh off a vacation through the riotous streets of Belfast, is currently stationed in Dublin, Ireland where she recently took in the last leg of David Gray’s world tour.
All good things must come to an end and great things need some rest and relaxation. And after a six-month U.S. and UK tour, not to mention a decade of general musical struggle, David Gray has earned it. The super juggernaut that is Gray touched down in Dublin’s outdoor venue, Marley Park, this past weekend. Saturday’s show marked the end of a three-night stint in the city that discovered him first, and the end of the tour that was just in its beginnings when it touched down in Madison, last April.
While most of the U.S. sees Gray as a fresh new talent, the introspective lyricist has an impressive and lengthy career under his belt, and no one knows this better than the city of Dublin. The city has been on board since the beginning, welcoming Gray with open arms and ears since 1992. Saturday night’s performance was as close to a hometown gig as it gets. By way of saying thanks, Gray, flanked by a handful of violinists and his trusty bandmates, entertained his loyal followers with a solid and career-spanning two-hour set.
Kicking things off with the poppy love song of escape, “Sail Away” was just one of the many polished and wobble-head-inducing tracks he played off of his latest release, White Ladder. Gray’s relaxed, yet energetic stage presence, fuelled by the equally lively and sing-along-ready crowd, made for an evening of constant and consistent superiority.
Gray’s flexibility and versatility proved to be the night’s biggest asset. He smiled and flipped off the rain, easily moving through his eclectic repertoire. Soothing ballads like “Flame Turns Blue” and “This Year’s Love” were performed with just as much soul and passion as his thrashing, rock-ish romp “Faster, Sooner Now” and the evening’s most dance club-ish moment, the techno-enhanced “Please Forgive Me.”
Throughout the night, Gray repeatedly confirmed that his live performance style and songs are timeless. The blend of “Hello Goodbye,” the haunting and beautiful hymn from his most recent release, with the equally brilliant “Gathering Dust,” off of his 1992 debut album, was just one of the many highlights in a night full of priceless, impossible-to-capture-on-a-bootleg moments. Gray also indulged in a few bars of Led Zeppelin and a rousing rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.”
Gray seems to be at home in any venue, having played impressive live performances this past year in Madison’s Barrymore Theatre in September, the Oscar Mayer Theatre in April and now Marley Park in Dublin. But through it all, the no-frills purity of moving lyrics and simple, stoic melodies are impossible to ignore, even through a steady rain. Saturday night, at one hell of a pub, Gray was the masterful, musical bartender; mixing fast and slow, blending past and present and serving an intoxicating night of quality music.