Denver group the Fray has once again proven the power of the tube. Not YouTube, but the old-fashioned TV. The band, led primarily by singer and pianist Isaac Slade, has seen its popularity surge after its song “How To Save a Life” was used on the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Since then, the band has been reaping the rewards on the road and will most likely be on tour well into 2007. And while the Fray offered a rather straightforward set Oct. 21 in Toronto, someone’s birthday resulted in some lighter moments.
Although comparisons to Coldplay are valid, especially thanks to the group’s impressive light show, the Fray also fall in line with acts like Keane and Joe Jackson on tracks like the moody opener “Little House,” which slowly grew in sound and intensity. From there, the band went straight into “She Is” but got sidetracked thanks to Steven, the birthday boy who, with the exception of shorts, was in his birthday suit. After cracking up and stopping the song, the band forged ahead on the second attempt. The crisp, radio-friendly “All At Once” was the first highlight, as the crowd drowned out Slade and guitarist Joe King throughout the number.
After mentioning how the Killers played the same venue the previous evening, Slade and King nailed the fine new number “Absolute,” which brought to mind Colplay’s “Politik” with its meaty backbeat. However the ensuing “Dead Wrong” was a mixed result, as the slow, country-tinged track hued to closely to Ryan Adams or David Gray. Needing another shot in the arm to keep the crowd onside, Slade asked the audience, most holding cell phones or digital cameras over their heads, to sing along during the fleshed-out “Look After You” and the stronger “Heaven Forbid.”
Unless you are Elton John or Jerry Lee Lewis, any piano-led act understandably keeps its stage antics to a minimum. As a result, a few numbers seemed to fall flat, particularly the folksy “Uncertainty.” Yet the homestretch featured a rousing, straight-laced rendition of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and “Fall Away.” Once again Steven returned for the almost obligatory “Happy Birthday to You,” which concluded with the band churning out the catchy, set-closing “Over My Head (Cable Car)” as Steven fed the band birthday cake.
Returning for an encore that began awkwardly with Slade alone on acoustic guitar for “Happiness,” the Fray ended the evening with the rousing signature “How To Save a Life.” Hopefully the group aren’t left torn and frayed after touring behind this debut.
Here is the Fray’s set list:
“All At Once”
“Look After You”
“Over My Head (Cable Car)”
“How To Save a Life”