The Fray Hits the Rocks

Denver's hometown heroes are larger than Life.

Shortly thereafter, the rain got heavier as Slade made his way to the front of the stage solo, armed with an acoustic guitar. He dedicated "You Are My Sunshine" to everyone who loves being from Colorado, then played a rain medley, as he put it, that included "Summertime," "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Happiness," another newish tune that he debuted last fall on the Rocks. By then Slade, his piano and the entire front portion of the stage were being pounded by sheets of rain. From where I stood, it looked like he was under a shower spigot. A few minutes later, Slade was rejoined by his bandmates for an inexplicable, acoustic take on Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie." In that moment of levity, the band reminded us of the affable bunch of goofballs we've all come to know and love. And then they closed out the night with "Trust Me" and "Little House."

I didn't stick around for the encore. I left when King started pulling people out of the crowd to play tambourine on (natch) "Over My Head (Cable Car)." By then the rain was torrential and I was soaked to the bone — and besides, I'm pretty sure I know how that one ends.

As I walked down the steps, which looked like a waterfall, it finally dawned on me: The Fray's strength doesn't lie in the fact that it can play a perfectly impersonal arena rock show by the numbers. Leave that crap to Coldplay. Its strength lies in the intangibles, the unspoken ability that the band has of connecting with its audience. And that's what will keep it above the fray.

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