David Gray – 2010 Louisville review

We had to chuckle at David Gray’s accent each time he came out with an energetic “Thank you, Lew-is-ville!” The sincerity behind the statement, though, was in spirit with the rest of his fantastic performance at the Louisville Palace, Friday March 26th (with opening band Phosphorescent).

David Gray in Brussels

February 4th Brussels (via Kmeron, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

My mom had planned her first visit to Louisville to see me and one of her favorite artists. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to come at the last minute, so my trusty Korean companion joined me. While David Gray tends to attract 40+ aged listeners, these late-Gen Xers weren’t disappointed.

We arrived right around 8 p.m. to the Ryman-like venue. The Palace also reminds me of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, another venue featuring a Baroque opera house look. I don’t know if it was sold out, but it sure looked packed, both in the lobby and in the theater. Definitely felt the vibe of David Gray Fandom as we walked in.

Phosphorescent had already started – can’t remember the last time I’d been to a show that started on time – so we found our seats and soaked in some of their Willie Nelson tribute songs (To Willie, 2009). While I don’t know many Willie tunes, I recognized the form immediately. Phosphorescent is a talented act, but it wasn’t the warmup I expected for David Gray. We left to have some libation at the lobby bar and hang out among the peeps.

From the curtain-dropping “Fugitive” to their extended treatment of “Please Forgive Me” (which reminded me of Mute Math), I can say with confidence that David Gray and his band gave us our money’s worth.  I was particularly impressed with Neill MacColl on guitar and background vocals. He has the look of an old bluegrass legend but the guitar fingers of David Gilmour. The tech crew was top notch, too – I saw at least three guys tuning guitars side stage and the lighting fit the mood of the songs perfectly. I recognized less than half of the setlist, but now that I’ve been listening to a lot of David Gray on Lala.com, I’d say he picked the right ones for the show. Video of “Please Forgive Me” in Milwaulkee:

I was particularly impressed with the extended length performance of “Nemesis” (which I’d never even heard before) off of the latest album. I have a feeling that the photo above was taken during that song. I’ve quoted the closing lyrics and embedded a YouTube clip of the piece from Utrecht NL, 3 feb 2010.

I’m the babe that sleeps
Through the Blitz
I am a sudden and quite unexpected twist
I am your one true love
Who sleeps with someone else
I am your nemesis
Baby I’m life sweet life itself

He’ll be touring the States through April, then Canada in May. I hadn’t even thought to look before the show, but the official forum has a “Gigs” discussion section where you can arrange meetups and post reviews. There are a few posted for the Louisville show. I had initially declined my mom’s invitation to see the show with her, but now I’m both sad (that she wasn’t there) and glad that I decided to partake in David Gray’s art.

Slight edit: Swapped photo and video order for home page optimization.