Support: Lisa O'Neill
First gig of the year for me and my 232nd overall (but who’s counting). Having been to my fair share of gigs it is always nice to go to a different venue. Tonight was a bonus as it certainly wasn’t your typical setting for a gig. The Grade II listed Emmanuel Centre doesn’t look much from the outside but once inside you could tell it was a special place. Having said that the seats (pews?) were hard, the seat numbers may as well have been non-existent and we were sat right at the back. Despite all that there were two things that made it great. Helpful staff (although some looked as confused as me with the seat numbers) and the excellent sound. In fact I don’t remember hearing a better sound at another concert of its type. Whether due to our location in the theatre or, as is more likely, the acoustics of the venue, it really was quality.
Of course the sound can be as good as you want but if the musicians on stage are no good then it is wasted. No danger of that with David Gray. He is an artist that gets better with age and in recent times has been on a creative high. He is backed by a large band including support act Lisa O’Neill who, although seemingly mad as a hatter, has a bubbly personality and unique voice. Let’s not forget old stalwart (sorry) Robbie Malone complete with double bass.
This is the first London gig for David in a number of years and as he has joked himself he somehow managed to coincide it with the Tube strike. Coupled with the horrible weather some could be forgiven for not making it yet as far as I could see there were few, if any, empty seats. These gigs were going to be a bit different though. These, as well as the pre-Christmas Irish run of shows, are all about trying out new songs and playing a few that haven’t been heard for a while. No one really wanted to miss this it seems...
It is some 22 years since David’s debut single Birds Without Wings was released. 22 years. It doesn't seem possible. Although that particular song doesn’t get an airing here other early songs Shine and Gathering Dust do and both are sung with gusto. There are other stand outs for me though with From Here You Can Almost See The Sea and Ain’t No Love being particular good. Yet it is the new songs that surprise tonight. Not that I didn’t expect one or two to be good but all sounded excellent. Maybe it was the setting as their sound certainly seemed perfect for the Centre. Favourites for me were I Want All My Cake and Eat It (snappy title) and Dancing With Both Feet On The Ground (another snappy title) but all are genuinely good and although it may be quite likely that the crowd was a little biased, all the new songs are well received.
Confession: As much as I love the White Ladder album I was never that keen on My Oh My.
Calm down Gray fans I had to say it. However I can now say that I love that song. The version played here was a joyful rendition, unrecognisable from the norm. Nemesis, is as usual, a stunning song live…a song which you (and probably David) are never quite sure when it is going to end. For an encore he starts with Babylon which tonight includes a few Mr Gray gaffs. I think he has had his issues with that song over the years but for this performance he laughed his way through it and it was possibly the better for it. Last up was Sail Away which sent us home happy...he didn't play any more as he didn't want us to miss our last tube home...yes very funny David.
Ticket: February 5th 2014
Ticket Price: £30.00