The Fray at Red Rocks, 5/11/12
It was cold last night at Red Rocks. Like balls-into-your-body-cavity cold. Seriously. It was also wet and foggy and miserable. Once the lights went up, though, the Fray's sound cut through the fog and rain and made everyone forget their frostbitten feet. The hometown heroes evoked love from the crowd that no weather issues could quash. The completely-full stands of fans were on their feet from the beginning, as Paul Simon's "Homeward Bound" appropriately welcomed the band home to Red Rocks.
Isaac Slade of the Fray last night at Red Rocks. Slide show: The Fray at Red Rocks.
As always -- and this is both good and bad -- the band sounded unmistakably similar to a Gray's Anatomy soundtrack. This is a great thing for a cold and weary crowd who just want to sing along; maybe not so good if you enjoy hearing a different take on old favorites. (There was an attempt at a guitar solo in "Never Say Never," but it lasted all of three seconds.)
The set included a healthy mix of songs from all its albums, from the requisite "How to Save a Life" to "Syndicate" to "Heartbeat." Despite the growing chill, the band showed remarkable energy; Isaac Slade pounded away on the piano, his bald head shining like a wet beacon even into the upper level of Red Rocks.
Ben Wysocki of the Fray last night at Red Rocks. Slide show: The Fray at Red Rocks.
The act closed to an appreciative crowd (who were happy not only to have been a part of this homecoming show, but happy too that they were about to walk to their cars where there were heaters). Maybe it doesn't matter that it was freezing. Maybe it doesn't matter that you could have stayed home in front of a fire and listened to the Fray CDs and heard pretty much the same thing. Maybe what's important is the line that Slade called out to the sell-out stands of Red Rocks: That these were his people. And for this night, that was enough.
Before the Fray's set, Dia Frampton did her best to warm up the popsicle crowd. Although everyone seemed to enjoy her enthusiasm, no one seemed to care that she was the runner-up on season one of NBC's The Voice, because they were no doubt too busy daydreaming about making small fires in the aisles. That is, until she launched into her cover of the Fray's cover of Kanye West's "Heartless," which temporarily heated things up to the point where the folks could actually physically clap without their hands shattering.
Prior to Frampton's set, Churchill played just a handful of songs (including "Change," which is what everyone sitting on dirty wet wood wanted the weather to do) before thanking the audience and retreating to warmer confines.
Personal Bias: I was secretly singing along to songs from their first album. Sigh.
Random Detail: The Red Rocks staff are wicked nice and devoted to their jobs.
By The Way: Red Rocks should consider selling buttered rum for cold fucking nights.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
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