The Fray close out summer tour in Boston

A review of The Fray at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on July 30, 2014

, Contributing Writer

A great concert does more than provide a night of music and entertainment; it sweeps the audience away in a musical illusion. While The Fray put on a solid performance at Boston’s Blue Hills Bank Pavilion last Wednesday, the last big night of the “Helios” tour felt less like a dream and more like the end of someone else’s summer camp experience.

The four-man band (accompanied by two additional musicians) kicked off the night by working its way back through the band’s catalogue, beginning with “Closer to Me” off their new album Helios. They continued with pair of hits: “Heartbeat” from 2012’s Scars & Stories and “You Found Me” from 2009’s The Fray. Frontman Isaac Slade showed off his many musical talents, beginning on the guitar, then focusing simply on vocals and later spending some time at the grand piano.

The energy picked up as Slade headed into the audience for the old crowd-favorite “All At Once”, followed up by the new track “Hurricane”. Two of the most upbeat songs by the band, viewers responded well to the lead singer’s extended time amongst the rows of onlookers.

Guitarist Joe King was also given a chance to shine, leading “Rainy in Zurich” and sharing a single mic with Slade to harmonize on “Wherever This Goes” and Patsy Cline’s “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”, which also featured Brian Fennel of openers Barcelona. Slade’s voice struggled throughout the evening, clearly worn out from a long tour, yet the combined voices still shined together.

Slade acknowledged his less-than-stellar vocals that night by recalling a show in 2005, at the beginning of the band’s decade-long career, when he lost his voice completely, and the Boston crowd embraced singing along to the then-unproven act’s songs wholeheartedly. “Boston has stood by us,” said Slade, “You have been there from the beginning, and we can’t thank you enough.” Whether the band was small, medium, big, or medium again, he explained, the local fans have stood by The Fray, and as long as they continue to come out to the shows, the group will continue to return to the city.

The most fun of the night came from the fact that it was the band’s last show of their summer tour. Along with passing out shots on stage to their entire crew, The Fray marked the occasion by celebrating “prank night”. It began earlier in the night when members of The Fray surprised Fennel by dressing exactly like him and subsequently stealing all of the band’s instruments for the end of Barcelona’s set. Along with fellow openers Oh Honey, Barcelona would get their revenge on the headliners in a few ways. First, during the sexier number (noted by Slade’s popped collar) “Give It Away”, beach balls rained down on the crowd and back to the stage, impeding the band’s ability to focus on performing. More notably, “Love Don’t Die” – the final song of the main set – turned into a naked romp as members of both openers took to the stage in nothing but their skivvies and shoes.

The night concluded with three slower tracks, “Break Your Plans”, “Never Say Never” and “Shadow and a Dancer”. It wasn’t the most exciting way to end a rather standard show, but in the end, The Fray did what they do best: perform their music, for their fans. Needless to say, the crowd didn’t seem to mind.

Setlist
1.  Closer To Me
2.  Heartbeat
3.  You Found Me
4.  All At Once
5.  Hurricane
6.  Rainy Zurich
7.  Look After You
8.  Keep On Wanting
9.  Wherever This Goes
10. Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Patsy Cline cover)
11. Hold My Hand
12. Turn Me On
13. Give It Away
14. Our Last Days
15. How To Save A Life
16. Over My Head (Cable Car)
17. Love Don’t Die
Encore
18. Break Your Plans
19. Never Say Never
20. Shadow and a Dancer

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