FOR a few years during the late nineties, David Gray dominated the charts and airwaves with singles such as Babylon, Please Forgive Me and The One I Love and the six million selling album White Ladder.
It may seem that he’s been quiet of late but that’s because he’s been enjoying success in the US, where his latest album, Foundling, reached the top ten.
“That’s where it’s gone best the past few years so I’ve been spending half my bloody life over there,” says the 42-year-old.
He’s currently back in the UK on the Lost and Found Tour, which includes his first visit to Nottingham in six years. And there’s a difference with the way he’ll be presenting the music this time.
“It’s a sort of fantasy gig for me and it’s an idea I had quite a long time ago,” he says.
“It’s a look back across all of my work but without all the stupendous volume you get from someone blasting away on the drums and a big bass rig next to it. The volume is just way down but the sound is just perfect. There’s a piano, acoustic guitar, cello, harmonium... it’ll be like listening to a glorified studio recording live on stage.”
He adds “The band will be grouped together as closely as possible and we’ll be working with the silence of the room.”
It’s why he isn’t bringing the tour to the Capital FM Arena, which he sold out in 2005, but has chosen instead the Royal Concert Hall.
“The venue is key,” says Gray.
He’s done the tour in the US already.
“It doesn’t have the physicality of the show that I would normally do where I’m leaping around and getting hot and sweaty. It’s much more intense. You’ll be able to tell by the expressions on our faces. My tongue comes further and further out of my mouth until it’s virtually wrapped around my ear.”
He adds: “They’re completely different versions of songs like Sail Away and Babylon. They’re rendered in a new way. And I’m playing songs I haven’t played in 15 years. And some of them aren’t as bad I thought,” he laughs.
White Ladder, Gray’s fourth album, released in 1998, was the first of three to top the UK chart. The latter two, A New Day at Midnight and Life In Slow Motion, also reached the US chart.
Although Gray will be working on a new album later this year, this current tour isn’t designed to promote any particular album.
“I think the idea of touring albums isn’t incumbent on me any longer,” he says.
“I don’t need to make a record to tour. That whole idea is dying, if it’s not dead already. You don’t sell any records any more so why haul yourself around the world to promote it?,” he laughs.
Gray was born in Cheshire but grew up in Wales. He now lives in London with his wife and two children, aged six and nine.
After the UK tour ends next week, he returns to the US for another month.
“I’ve thought about moving to Los Angeles because they don’t think of you unless you are standing right in front of them. And if you are right in the thick of it, you’re going to meet very influential people. Chances of getting some film music or a co-write or something like that are good.
“But I’m so British. Although I don’t know what that means. I’d never wave a union jack around but I am British in that anti-British way. I’m a self-loathing Brit. I like bad weather and grumpy people so I don’t think if I could handle it over there.”
David Gray brings the Lost and Found Tour to the Royal Concert Hall on Sunday, June 5, from 8pm. Tickets are £38.50 and £29.50 from the venue, call 0115 989 5555 or visitwww.trch.co.uk