Photo Credit: Tee Schneider
“It’s good to see you finally, L.A.,” said an exuberant David Gray, moments after the start of his pandemic-delayed return to Los Angeles. The Saturday night performance which landed on July 30 at the Greek Theatre- a stop on Gray’s ongoing White Ladder 20th Anniversary U.S. tour- initially was postponed for two years due to COVID-19. Gray opened the much anticipated evening with an hour-long set of back-catalog hits, then delivered a second set featuring a complete rendering of the White Ladder album, and a lengthy five-song encore.
A dark-suited Gray, backed by a four-piece ensemble, kicked off the first half with the single, “You’re the World to Me,” from his 2007 Greatest Hits collection. He followed that with eight classics from his discography, including a trio of singles from 2005’s Life in Slow Motion: “The One I Love,” “Hospital Food,” and “Alibi.” On the finale of the three, Gray extended the refrain through the outro, imploring the near-capacity crowd to sing along.
After a brief, 20-minute intermission, Gray- now in cream-colored attire- returned with his band, and with Craig “Clune” McClune on drums. Clune, a longtime collaborator, and integral creative part of the globally successful White Ladder, discontinued working with Gray in 2007. Reunited after 15 years, the pair led an in-sequence reading of the multi-platinum, chart-topping album, garnering standing ovations at each song’s conclusion.
Leading back-to-back with two of White Ladder’s highest-charting hits- “Please Forgive Me” and “Babylon,” Gray and his band mostly held true to the songs’ original arrangements, through to the album’s closer and Soft Cell cover, “Say Hello Wave Goodbye.” Without leaving the stage, Gray announced the start of an encore, with a rendition of the Gloria Jones-penned, Soft Cell-adopted “Tainted Love.” Gray also offered a monologue about his debut appearance at Glastonbury in 2000, and a chance meeting with David Bowie, before launching a tribute to the late artist with a pair of Bowie covers: “Life on Mars?” and “Oh! You Pretty Things.”
With a Greek crowd insistent for more, Gray surprised with a cover of The Cure’s “In Between Days,” then returned solo for a final acoustic take on his early classic, “Shine.” Gray’s North American schedule next turns east across the States, culminating in mid-August. A third leg in Australia and New Zealand begins in November, wrapping in South Africa in early December.