It's hard to be objective when you're a huge fan, but I'll do my best. David Gray gave a great performance. Okay, that wasn't very objective, but he was very good, ask anyone who was lucky enough to get tickets. The concert sold out in a matter of hours and even the touts outside couldn't lay their hands on tickets. He'll have to start playing bigger venues to feed the frenzied demand for him. The crowd was an eclectic bunch, from dreadlocks to spikes, from the new recruits to the die-hard fans. I don't know what I expected, but the different types of people at the gig surprised me, just shows how universal his music is. The HQ is an unusual venue, cream and black décor with couches facing the stage and table service that makes the drink flow much quicker. The pillars are covered in yellowing newspaper and with the black and white framed photographs on the walls adds to its air of culture and comfort. The layout is such that no matter where you sit you have a good view of the stage and there's even space in the front for the more adoring to sit on the floor at the feet of their hero (as some did!). The balcony above facilitates a birds-eye view of the stage. Unfortunately, with the bar and the balcony above, the noise levels can be quite high.
David started the set with 'White Ladder' and played every song off his last album, "White Ladder", except 'Silver Lining'. He was in fine singing form and said at the beginning that he felt it was going to be a good gig. David with his trademark shake of the head, cheerful smile and colourful banter and the enigmatic Clune on the keyboard were an entertaining combination. There was also great on-stage chemistry between the new bass player Robbie (ex-Lir), the drummer and the two front men. They did a faster version of 'Please Forgive Me' that got the crowd up dancing until the computer broke down midway. Not that Dave seemed to care, he just cursed it and started the song again. They said they were going to play 'Century Ends' as much as they could from now until the end of the year. They gave it a great rendition with lots of guitar and it merged into the "na na na na na" of 'Gathering Dust' at the end, with the whole audience joining in. David moved to the piano for 'This Year's Love' and the crowd swayed to probably his biggest hit, so far. He played two new songs and 'Late Night Radio', 'Smile' and 'Falling Free' from his earlier albums. The crowd responded with calls for 'Shine' and "You the man, David!", to which he replied "I hope I'm a man!" He finished up his set with 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye'.
Maybe it's selfish, but for an instant at the concert I wished for the days of much smaller crowds and just one night to hear more tracks from his older albums. He may still be a long way from commercialism, but along with increased popularity comes increasingly "popular" music. You couldn't help but feel he is slightly tired of playing 'This Year's Love' and 450 performances of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' in the last year is enough to turn even the most enthusiastic performer off a song. Not that his performance wasn't enthusiastic and pretty much flawless, he gave it everything, as always. Having seen him in Limerick last year and already looking forward to his return to Ireland before Christmas, I love his live performances and will continue to do everything I can to get tickets for them and continue promoting him. He deserves worldwide recognition and a much wider audience and it seems that his time in the spotlight is dawning. I'm just glad I'm around to watch.
by Celine O'Malley.