Akron Civic Theater
June 11, 2019
David Gray is currently on the radio supporting his 11th album, Gold in A Brass Age and on Saturday he made a stop in Akron to play not one, but two shows. The first one was a special solo performance at The Summit.FM’s Studio C and the second featured a full band at the Akron Civic Theater.
The show at the Akron Civic Theater saw a full-band production with strobes and lights galore while the Studio C was just simply David and his keyboard. Both were enchanting and David’s vocal ability was on full display in front of the 80 fans that afternoon and the 2,200 people at The Civic.
The evening kicked-off with seven numbers from the latest album, released in March of this year. The first part of the set was heavily focused on the band aspect of the show. David would effortlessly switch from piano to acoustic guitar with a loop for the layered sound Brass Age gives off. In the afternoon, David mentioned the band has been on the road since February and in the past four months of gigs it shows the band has figured out to recreate and bring the new music life. “If 8 Were 9” was the last song before they tore into his back catalog.
The crowd was respectful and quite during the new songs but when the first notes of the hit song “Sail Away” were played, the crowd went into a frenzy and continued with “My Oh My.” Both coming from his most successful album White Ladder. The next13 songs were picked and chosen from five of his albums. Each show on the tour has been different in order and song selection so it was hard to predict what would come next.
Throughout the evening the background turned from green and blue to red to white, bright lights and effects filled the ceiling of the beautiful Civic Theater. During an extended version of “Nemesis” the lights felt very rave-esque, which might sound crazy given how tame Mr. Gray’s music and shows are but it worked as it made the song feel turned up and loud.
The middle of the set featured three and half songs with just David on stage, the only similar thing to the radio session from earlier in the day. “Snow in Vegas," “Ain’t No Love” and “Twilight” had just David, his guitar or piano and minimal production and the band rejoined him mid-way through the evenings biggest song, “This Years Love.” Before exiting the stage for the encore break, they played an extended version of “Babylon” and fittingly it was the first song to get people on their feet and singing loudly. The evening ended with “Please Forgive Me” that left people dancing and singing along after a full two hours.
David said he wants to learn to take time off the road and live outside of the music for a bit after this album cycle but if the shows on Saturday are any indication he isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Review by Troy Smith
Photograph by Kirk Stauffer