Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall, June 8, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

One does not have to be a fan of The Fray to understand their rapid rise of success throughout the US. Although their mega-single Over My Head (Cable Car) was written over two years ago, the sophisticated, sensitive band needed to find a home at Epic Records in order for the song to be played outside of their native Colorado.

 

Spin was quick to point out recently the sensitive side of rock, and The Fray definitely falls straight into that category. Pianist and singer Isaac Slade is quickly becoming the uber-God among teen and early 20-something girls as hit lyrics about lost love; devotion and affection seem to be filling a void since Coldplay has headed back across the pond.

 

Announced just before The Fray became a number one band across Top 40 stations, the $15 ticket to the sold-out Newport show were selling for more than five times that in some cases, as fans were lined up for what seemed like miles to get a chance to be close to the band.

 

What was more impressive than Slade's live, harmonious voice was listening to the audience sing almost every song back to the band just as loud as they could. In fact, there were several times during the set where Slade simply let the horde take over the show and just had the band play backing vocals to the over-enthusiastic crowd. In 2005, Over My Head (Cable Car) hit the airwaves with modest success, and it wasn't until the title song, How To Save a Life, hit the airwaves. That, along with the beginning of spring, seemed to jump-start the open ears and showed that people were ready to hear this band bloom as well.

 

Currently, their quick rise is leading to sold-out venues across the country, and the live show leaves little disappointment even for the most dedicated of fans. The Fray hit the stage exactly a its scheduled 9:15 time and played a 75 minute set filled with the entire record. Although the number of men in the audience seemed to be minimal (and those there all seemed to have a girlfriend in tow), The Fray's sensitivity should not lead the masculine sex adrift. Aside from Slade's romantic piano playing, the rest of the band adds a quiet yet upbeat backdrop to the music, allowing the music to have a more subdued, calming affect to the very touching lyrics. This is a dichotomy that works wonders, as the sensitivity that seems to attract the fairer sex can be taken to heart by anyone willing to give the band a listen.

What is also noticeable about The Fray's live performance is it is not filled with constant instrument changes and pauses. Aside from a conversation where Slade insisted the Columbus audience was one of the most beautiful to appear at a show, Slade and company plowed through the set like a farmer trying to beat a rainstorm. Too often, headlining acts with only one record try to fill time with talk, but The Fray used every minute on stage to entertain and play music, and it made for a fast-paced show, even if the music is anything but speedy.

 

Much like James Blunt who came through Columbus a few weeks ago, The Fray give hope that young kids can enjoy quality music. And whether one is a fan of The Fray or thinks their sensitivity is too over the top, its talent and songwriting ability should not be ignored. And if it helps kids understand quality music can be enjoyable, then The Fray is already done a good deed for the day.

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