I totally understand that seeing two guys with guitars sing love songs might not be your cup of tea. However, if that is your bag? You could do a lot worse than checking out rough-voiced New Englander Ray LaMontagne and soulful Welshmen David Gray in concert together.
I was able to see them on a particularly interesting date-as August 17th was the day that both men released their latest albums. Ray’s “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise” is his first self-produced effort, recorded with a band he assembled called the Pariah Dogs. Gray’s double-disc “Foundling” consists of songs recorded at the same time as last year’s critically-acclaimed “Draw the Line”. Both men were excellent. The two combined to pack the Bank of America Pavilion (a great outdoor venue) for a perfect date night show. Never mind that I wasn’t on a date. Anyway…
Gray is certainly much more of a showman than the notoriously withdrawn LaMontagne is, but Ray more than held his own in front of his hometown crowd (although I must admit to being somewhat flummoxed as to why he didn’t “headline” in what’s basically his backyard). Heart-rending ballads like “Let it Be Me” and “Trouble” (which he performed back to back, causing the audience to swoon in unison) were the biggest wins of the nite, but for my money, Ray and the Dogs really cooked on more uptempo fare like “You Are the Best Thing” and the new “Repo Man”, which is probably as close as Ray is ever going to get to funk. Ray was also quite verbose-perhaps a sign that he’s becoming ever more comfortable with his audience?
I’ve seen Ray before, so I knew what to expect (and he didn’t disappoint). David Gray was another story. I’ve actually been to see him twice, without actually having seen him (long story). Although there was no doubt in my mind that he would be an ace live performer, I was pleasantly surprised by just HOW good he was. Running through his extensive catalog (I’d forgotten how many albums he’s released), Gray ran effortlessly from guitar to piano, engaging in vocal acrobatics and giving his songs more energy than you’d expect a neo-folkie to give. He also had a pretty wicked light show and some interesting dance moves (one of my friends said he dances like Elmo).
All in all, a big thumbs-up on this show. Make sure you catch these guys when they roll through your town.
Get the full listing of tour dates here.