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David Gray,
Mean Fiddler,
19th Dec 1998.

David Gray is the man of the moment. He recently played a number of Dublin hotspots, selling out in record time. This, from a guy who, two years ago, strummed to small, though fiercely loyal, clusters of fans in smoky bars.

Riding on the crest of his critically acclaimed fourth album, "White Ladder"; David Gray looked every bit the happy camper at The Mean Fiddler. Taking to the stage in combats and yellow chicken-covered shirt, Gray could have gobbed on his audience and they would still have been his.

Accompanied by his ambidextrous sidekick, Clune, and newly recruited keyboard player - a cross between TFI's "Wiiiilllll" and a gerbil on speed - the three were in frenetic form. While they mostly played material from the latest album; he also offered his devout legion of fans a number of tunes from his older albums.

One criticism, however, each time I see him perform his breakthrough "Late Night Radio", it lacks the live impact that it really should explode with. No matter, "Say Hello - Wave Goodbye", his excellent cover of the Soft Cell track, sounds spot on, as do "Debauchery", "Wisdom" and "White Ladder".

David Gray's experimentation with diverse sounds is nowhere more evident than on "Please Forgive Me". There are elements of drum and bass, Spanish guitar, heavy piano chords and a steady drum machine throughout. Somewhat of a bizarre experience to see people well ... raving at a David Gray concert. However, the sobering singer sliding in behind the keyboard for the achingly pretty "This Year's Love" counteracted the manic effects. The audience hung on every word and mirrored his sporadic wide grins.

David Gray's ever-expanding fan base in Ireland remains a mystery. Having seen the Welsh man in action on three previous occasions, I was expecting to feel a little bored. Fortunately, his diversity is the key to his magnetism, never failing to dig deeper to please the punters.

by Anne-Louise Foley