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Concert Reviews:
The Fray Is Warmly Received On A Hot Night At DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2009

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Early in Jack's Mannequin's support set at the Fray-headlined concert Saturday (June 27) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, frontman Andrew McMahon complained to fans about the poor weather conditions -- mostly rain -- that the groups have encountered so far on their tour.

The Fray can top that.

The Denver group's last stop in the area was a Jan. 10 show at Detroit's St. Andrew's Hall, part of a special run of clubs to preview its sophomore album, "The Fray," and held despite one of the winter's nastiest blizzards. So the group was pleased to be in warmer and larger climes, with a nearly full DTE -- a youthful, take-your-daughter's-to-the-concert crowd -- swooning over the Fray's procession of earnest, melodic and richly arranged pop paeans.

Though it didn't quite match the high energy level of Jack's Mannequin's 55-minute attack -- itself preceded by a pensive but crowd-pleasing set by Richard Swift -- the Fray still plays the big stage well, enhancing the assorted moods of its music bathed in washes of color from three horizontal lightbulb curtains hanging behind it. Frontman Isaac Slade, though still clearly more comfortable when his piano is nearby, continues to develop as a performer and made more of an attempt to work across the stagefront and even ventured onto a short ramp jutted into the first row.

With only two album, the Fray was able to delve deep into both, splitting its 90-minute, 17-song show with nine of "The Fray's" 10 tracks -- "Happiness" was played twice, in a short a capella for to start the set and a full-band rendition to close it -- and the remaining six coming from 2005's "How to Save a Life." The group bravely tossed off its two biggest hits, "Over My Head (Cable Car)" and "How to Save a Life," within the first half-hour, and it's a mark of the fan loyalty it's built so early in its career that fans were still singing along to less well-known selections such as "She Is," "Say When," "Enough For Now" and "Little House."

The Fray did close its main set with the hits (so far) from "The Fray" -- "Never Say Never" and "You Found Me" -- but the encores contained a couple of curve balls in guitarist Joe King's solo rendition of "Heaven Forbid" and a soulful, keyboard and electric drum-dominated treatment of "Heartless" before bringing the night to a close with "All at Once" and the full-band "Happiness." The group also won the crowd's favor with drummer Ben Wysocki's "Go Red Wings!" cheer and with Slade's spoken tribute to Michael Jackson, smartly noting his Motown roots and acknowledging Michigan's current economic straits.

It all made for a warm concert experience -- and not only because of the temperature.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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