Sunday, May 16, 2010

SHOW REVIEW : David Gray & Royal Wood at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

British singer-songwriter David Gray played to a sold-out show last Friday, the second of two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. If someone walked in to the show mid-way, they could be forgiven for thinking that it was a revival, not a concert, judging by the amount of arms waving in the air. He played a long set and encore filled with hits spanning his 17-year career, blasting off his set appearing from behind a white screen for crowd favourite "Babylon." The audience, filled to equal measure with screaming men and women, clapped, sang and screamed shrilly whenever the opportunity arose. In fact, the numerous standing ovations that the crowd lavished upon Gray, interspersed with male audience members yelling "I LOVE YOU!" and "HAVE MY BABIES!" made the singer smile and pause several times during his set. And the love was mutual; during his few pauses for banter, Gray thanked the crowd numerous times, and attributed his supposed moodiness to the lack of whales he saw during his tour on a whale-watching expedition earlier in the day.

David Gray and his band demonstrated considerable presence in order to fill the large venue in which they played. Gray in particular swayed from side to side, and swaggered like nobody's business. The crowd reciprocated, and by the time he strapped on the electric guitar for "The One I Love," the aisles of the classy theatre filled with middle aged men and women, swaying, dancing and waving their arms. To add to the comparisons to a spiritual revival, Gray barked "you may rise!" for one particular upbeat song in the encore, bringing scores of audience members to their feet. I had the novel experience of witnessing the (slightly) older generation losing their shit as I grinned in my seat, bemused.

Some other highlights of the set included the slow, burning build up of "The Other Side" in the beginning of the set. "Nemesis," which Gray saved for the second song of the encore, saw the band jamming in an extended mix while he improvised with the lyrics.

Toronto's Royal Wood opened the show with a short 30-minute set, with an even split of older material and new songs off of his yet-to-be-released latest album The Waiting. The people I chatted to during intermission around where I sat, which included two women who had seen the show 3 times and a few people from Seattle, had nothing but glowing reviews for Wood. "Charming," "funny" and "beautiful voice" were words they used, with one of the women enthusiastically retelling the joke that Royal told in order to encourage audience participation in his last song "Lady in White" - sing, for it shows your sexual confidence! A perfect lead-up to the singing, dancing crowd of Gray's set.

David Gray and Royal Wood will be continuing on tour throughout Canada, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming contest involving Royal Wood! Below are the remainder of the tour dates:

17 May 2010 20:00
Jack Singer Concert Hall Calgary, Alberta , CA
18 May 2010 20:00
TCU Place Saskatoon, Saskatchew, CA
19 May 2010 20:00
Centennial Concert Hall Winnipeg, Manitoba , CA
20 May 2010 20:00
Foster’s Inn Stratford, Ontario , CA
22 May 2010 20:00
Hamilton Place Theatre Hamilton, CA
23 May 2010 20:00
National Arts Centre - Southam Hall Ottawa, Ontario , CA
25 May 2010 20:00
Centre In The Square Kitchener, Ontario , CA
26 May 2010 20:00
St. Denis Theatre Montreal, Quebec , CA
28 May 2010 20:00
Halifax Metro Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA
2 Jul 2010 20:00
Stan Rogers Folk Festival Canso, Nova Scotia, CA
14 Aug 2010 20:00
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Fest Salmon Arm, BC, CA

(Photos by Nicole Gibbs)