LaMontagne & Gray show their strengths at the Pavilion

A review of Ray LaMontagne, David Gray at the Bank of America Pavilion on August 17, 2010

, Managing Editor

Ray LaMontagne and David Gray are two singer-songwriters who have walked along separate but successful paths in the same musical realm. Those paths have crossed for a summer tour together this year. Drawing their lines even closer, both artists released their new albums on the day of their first of two shows at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston. Judging from the performances on Tuesday night it appears both artists are still heading in the right direction.

New England native LaMontagne may have been at some form of a homecoming gig but it appeared that Gray’s seniority earned him the role of headliner. Perhaps in most cities this would be justified as Gray’s broader ranging sound can be more appealing to a wider audience, but it was clear how much this city has adopted LaMontagne as a scattering of seats sat empty during Gray’s set that were filled earlier while the man from Maine opened the show.

Nevertheless, Gray put on a commendable performance undeserved of any early exits. The Englishman brought great energy to the show, bobbing his head like Stevie Wonder all evening as he bounced around the stage. Fans were treated to a sample of Gray’s musical ability as he showed his guitar chops with a solo on “Nemesis”, his way with the harmonica on “Now and Always”, and his piano man charm on “This Year’s Love”, chuckling his way through a few lines after botching another.

Gray’s show was surprisingly engaging as he brought some fans to their feet with a few of his more upbeat songs like “Sail Away” and “Stella the Artist”. “Nemesis” was the highlight of the set, coming in waves of excitement, with the crest coming at the “Baby I’m life” crescendo.

Both Gray and LaMontagne really showed their strengths, Gray with his showmanship and LaMontagne with his uniquely raspy voice. When LaMontagne took the stage as the sun was still setting there were plenty of empty seats but his voice quickly drew fans in. LaMontagne’s set was largely tender but it was the folkier jams that received some of the biggest ovations. He and his new band The Pariah Dogs really let loose on “Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s a Shame)” and new track “Repo Man”.

The ballads that the Maine troubadour performed were beautiful and touching, especially with the surroundings, the light coming down and night settling in, but there was some disappointment in a few omissions. LaMontagne has the best collection of songs named after women (“Hannah”, “Jolene”, “Sarah”, etc.) since perhaps The Beatles, but sadly none of the “ladies” appeared in the setlist. Shouts for “Jolene” could be heard as his set drew near its end and although it didn’t appear, the blow was certainly softened by the serene “Shelter”.

The night as a whole ended when the two artists crossed paths once again as LaMontagne joined Gray onstage to combine their talents on a pretty cover of the Bee Gees “In The Morning”.

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