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Concert Reviews:
The Fray Gets Small Again

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009

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Joe King of The Fray noted that the group made Saint Andrews Hall a stop on its special club tour because of warm memories from a stop there in March of 2006, before the Denver quartet exploded into the double-platinum stratosphere.

"It was one of the most memorable shows for us," King told The Fray's faithful on Saturday night (Jan. 10). "It was such a loud show. So it's an honor to be back here in this room, and this city."

The fans certainly reciprocated. They had scooped up all the tickets to the show -- part of a pre-release road trip to flog The Fray's self-titled sophomore album, which comes out Feb. 3 -- in mere minutes, and they slogged through Saturday's heavy snows and poor driving conditions to get there. And even if they didn't laugh at frontman Isaac Slade's jokes they sang along heartily to the hits they knew and even demonstrated enough familiarity with the new material to indicate there had been a bit of online leakage already.

The nearly 90-minute, 16-song concert -- which followed a well-received opening set by Kansas City's Vedera -- certainly gave the crowd a chance to check out as much of the new album as they could want. Playing on a stage rimmed with household lamps, chandeliers and porch lights, the quartet and its two touring musicians played all 10 songs from the set, including the new single "You Found Me" and other selections -- the show-opening "Absolute," "Syndicate," "Where the Story Ends" and "Enough For Now" -- that had the same earnest and smoothly crafted pop flavor as 2005's "How to Save a Life." But the performance also yielded surprises, including the delicate, King-sung "Ungodly Hour" and the encores "We Build Then We Break" and "Happiness," a pair of ebb-and-flow opuses in the Radiohead or Coldplay mold that exhibit a more pronounced dynamic swing and aggressive edge than The Fray's previous work.

The group took some license with its earlier work, too. Though it was fairly faithful to "Over My Head (Cable Car)," "All At Once and "She Is," The Fray accented the end of "Look After You" with a bit of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," while "How to Save a Life" was given a stripped-down, acoustic treatment that would have been lost in a bigger venue and Slade performed "Vienna" as a solo piece.

Slade promised The Fray would be back "in a couple of months" -- actually more likely during the summer at the DTE Energy Music Theatre -- and hopefully with another hit on its hands. But the group will be hard-pressed to match the intimacy and sense of event it achieved on Saturday.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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