David Gray celebrated the 20th anniversary of his phenomenally successful ‘White Ladder’ album and it proved to be a life-affirming celebration of a record that forever changed his future and which has soundtracked fans’ lives ever since. The rapturously received tour took him from the UK and Ireland to South Africa via the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, eventually taking in 54 shows across four continents. And after playing to a total of 130,000 people just during the tour’s initial UK / Ireland arena run, it’s evident that ‘White Ladder’ still means so much to so many people.
Now David Gray documents the unforgettable tour with the release of ‘White Ladder Live’ out today (July 14th) via his own Laugh A Minute Records label. The album’s release is led by a new live recording of ‘Sail Away’. Listen HERE.
David says, “The White Ladder 20th Anniversary Tour was intended as a celebration of not just the album, but of the whole, life-affirming arc of an unlikely success story that saw millions and millions of people around the world really take this music to their hearts. After over two years of lockdowns and Covid uncertainty, it ended up being a celebration of so much more!
There was such a huge amount of pent-up energy both in the crowds and up on the stage, that the gigs felt completely supercharged. Every night was fuelled by a sometimes-overpowering sense of togetherness and emotional release, that really did feel like something out of the ordinary.
The whole tour was an unforgettable experience and every night felt special, all the way from the first show to the last. By the time we played the North American leg of the tour we already had a whole stack of shows under our belt and both band and crew were purring like a well oiled machine! The show we have chosen to focus on for this record is the second night of a two night run at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. It’s a great venue where the crowd is really on top of you and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The first night went well, but the second night just took off from the very first note. We were super relaxed in the way that we played, but also completely on the case – add in a lively Texan crowd and you’ve got a night to remember! It’s obvious when listening through to the gig what a great time we were having up there. It was such an amazing tour, and hopefully these recordings really capture some of that magic.”
A roar of approval greets ‘Please Forgive Me’ as David Gray performs ‘White Ladder’ in the original album’s running order, taking in its many other hits (‘Babylon’, ‘This Year’s Love’, ‘Sail Away’) and fan favourite deeper cuts (‘My Oh My’, ‘Silver Lining’) before closing the main set with his emotionally charged take on the Soft Cell classic ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’.
While everyone knows what to expect from the main set, the encore is full of surprises: a performance of ‘Tainted Love’ which is closer in spirit to Gloria Jones’ original, David infusing two Bowie classics with his own distinctive vocal phrasing, and a climactic reprise of ‘Please Forgive Me’ which builds dramatically from a stripped-back introduction to bring the curtain down in style. It also includes a spoken word piece ‘Bowie, Babylon, Glastonbury 2000’ in which David shares the stranger-than-fiction story of a day which included a surprise second set at Glastonbury, a Top 5 chart rise for ‘Babylon’ and a meeting with Bowie – all witnessed by his father, who had escaped from hospital to see the show.
A must have for fans, ‘White Ladder Live’ is now available to stream HERE. In addition to its digital and streaming formats, it will also be released as a double-vinyl gatefold package. PRE-ORDER HERE.