The Fray + Brett Dennen @ Birmingham Academy – 1st May 2009


Opening tonight’s show is Californian singer-songwriter Brett Dennen and his friend John Solo on keyboards. As he strolls bare-footed on to the stage he’s greeted with a few heckles from some parts of the crowd, but from the moment he starts the first song it is evident this young man has a lot of confidence and talent at his disposal. “Make You Crazy”, “Blessed” and “All We Have“ are all well written and after each song ends the applause grows. This is testament to Brett’s song writing ability as without backing vocals or a band behind him the songs are stripped bare.


“Heaven“ and the best song of the set “Hope For The Hopeless” shows that he has a craft for melodies. Rolling Stone magazine voted him one of the top 10 artists to watch for the future. As with other solo artists gaining fame over the last couple of years maybe this is the time for Brett to have a slice of fame. He certainly won over most of the Birmingham crowd tonight.


As The Fray take to the stage lead singer and pianist Isaac Slade nods his head in acknowledgement towards the audience before the opening bars of “Absolute“ and “Syndicate” are welcomed with an immediate audience singalong. “Over My Head” is a fan’s favourite judging by the response. “How To Save A Life” comes halfway through the set and everyone in the Academy sings to the music and when Isaac starts singing Oasis’s “Wonderwall“ the capacity Birmingham crowd finishes the song word perfect in acappella for him.


Later guitarist Joe King takes lead vocals for the hauntingly beautiful “Ungodly Hour” and, to me, he even sounded like the lead singer at times on this touching song. ”Enough For Now”, “Look After You” and “We Build Then We Break“ continue the set. “I love you” is shouted from the crowd by one female admirer. “ Thank You” came the reply from Isaac. “Never Say Never”, to me the highlight of the set and the band’s first encore, sounds much better live than on disc, coming across anthemic with its soaring chorus. ”You Found Me” closes the set. Then, for the second time, The Fray appear back on stage for a brilliant cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless” followed by “Happiness”.

Tonight was one of those nights for me that I knew the song but I had no idea who sang it. I later too found out that at least 4 of their songs have featured on major U.S television shows. The Fray were excellent tonight. I for one was very impressed as I think most of the mixed crowd were too.


Over My Head [Cable Car]
All At Once
Say When
How To Save A life
Ungodly Hour
Enough For Now
Look After You
We Build Then We Break
Fair Fight

Never Say Never
You Found Me

Review and Photos – Ian Dunn

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