Happy Holidays From The Fray

The Fray
Auditorium Theatre – Chicago, IL
The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11
December 4, 2009

The Fray Auditorium Theatre

Oh The Fray, how I love thee… Seriously though, I adore The Fray and have been a fan of the group since the very instant I heard “Over My Head (Cable Car)” on the radio back in the fall of 2005. I grew up playing the piano (classically trained, thank you very much); therefore, I am intensely attracted to The Fray’s compositions. Music of any sort that heavily features piano, keyboards, synthesizers, etc. holds a special place in my heart. Needless to say, I am a proud owner of the Piano/Vocal/Guitar songbook for The Fray’s first full-length album How To Save A Life and have taught myself how to play my favorite songs from the band’s debut record. “Heaven Forbid” is undoubtedly my absolute favorite track from How To Save A Life and every time I have seen The Fray live in concert, the guys have included it in their set list. Unfortunately, the Denver foursome decided not to perform “Heaven Forbid” at their Miracle Near State Street 11 gig last Friday night in Chicago. Slightly disappointed, I still managed to have an amazing time seeing one of my favorite piano-based bands play their music from the glorious vantage point of the second row (center section, of course). What I would have given for the chance to be invited up on stage to play the piano for just one of The Fray’s songs in place of frontman Isaac Slade…

More photos of The Fray after the jump!

Set List / Chicago

You Found Me

Syndicate

Absolute

All At Once

Say When

How To Save A Life

Ungodly Hour

Where The Story Ends

Never Say Never

Over My Head (Cable Car)

Happiness

One of the things I love most about The Fray is how talented these four guys truly are when it comes to writing music and playing a wide variety of instruments. Each one of the band’s members can easily adapt to and play each other’s instruments and proceed to do so during their shows, which I witnessed last Friday night. Lead singer Isaac Slade performs the majority of the set while sitting down at his grand piano, exactly where I like him to be. However, there were many times during the evening’s holiday radio show where Slade let his bandmates play the song’s necessary instruments while he chose to pace the stage sing his heart out.

To be honest, it was (and still is) hard for me to accept Slade as just a singer instead of a pianist/singer. Watching Isaac sing into a cordless microphone while standing still at the edge of the stage was difficult for me to observe. I had to resist the urge to yell at him to sit back down at the piano and play the same black and white keys that I know how to play, which is what I really wanted to do.

On my Christmas wish list this year is (can you guess?) the Piano/Vocal/Guitar songbook for The Fray’s second and latest full-length album, self-titled The Fray. The need to learn how to play my favorite track off of The Fray “Syndicate” is incessant and unrelenting. To my great relief and profound happiness, The Fray chose to play “Syndicate” at The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11. Rest assured, I was one delighted and satisfied fan when Slade announced that the second song of the night was called “Syndicate.” Looking back at the set list, I suppose that by playing “Syndicate” I will forgive Isaac and Co. for the fact that “Heaven Forbid” did not make the final cut. Next time, boys!

One of the fantastic perks that comes with living and working in Chicago is that super successful bands like The Fray tour through the Windy City quite often. Fortunately, I am one of the group’s lucky fans in America’s third largest metropolis who have seen The Fray all three times the band has played in Chicago within the past year. In celebration of most recent album The Fray, the band hit up small venues in select cities across the country to perform intimate shows while promoting the new record’s February 2009 release. So there I was, photographing and reviewing The Fray for The Dead Hub at a completely sold out show at Chicago’s historic Metro. That performance was impossible to get in to; after all, the Metro holds no more than 1,100 people. Trust me, I know how blessed I was to be there and do not take it for granted at all. I went alone for crying out loud!

The Fray must love Chi-Town, because the guys filmed their music video for lead single “You Found Me” off The Fray in the city I call home. Did you know that? I just found out about this interesting little fact within minutes of The Fray’s Miracle Near State Street 11 performance ending last week. Unfortunately, The Fray guys did not perform their amazing cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless” at this show. I bought their version of the song on iTunes the other day after remembering how much I fell in love with it after seeing the band play the cover at their Chicago concert this past June. But seeing as how I am currently boycotting everything Kanye West due to his appalling behavior at the MTV VMAs this year, I guess it was a good thing that The Fray chose not to pay homage to Mr. West.

Due to The Fray’s headlining gig at local station The Mix’s holiday radio show, the band’s set had to be much shorter than what is the norm for an artist of their merit and size. Upon the end of grand finale song “Happiness,” I was left wanting more of The Fray’s music. The guys did not even have enough time to include an encore in their set. What is that about? Who doesn’t perform an encore these days? Typically, two or three songs in an encore is the standard for performing artists and to be expected, right? Apparently The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11 thought differently.

Argh, the frustration I felt when the band finished playing a rousing rendition of “Happiness,” walked away from their instruments and off the stage into the shadows of the wings. Dashing all hopes I had of The Fray returning to play more songs, the house lights came on and the union stage hands began tearing down the stage. I am already waiting for the next date to be announced when The Fray will perform in Chicago again. For now, listening to their music on my iPod and playing their songs on my keyboard will have to suffice and hold me over.

The Fray Auditorium TheatreIsaac Slade (lead vocals, piano, acoustic guitar)

The Fray Auditorium TheatreDavid “Dave” Welsh (lead guitar)

The Fray Auditorium TheatreJoe King (rhythm guitar, backing/lead vocals)

The Fray Auditorium TheatreBen Wysocki (drums, percussion)

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Chicago Celebrates Christmas with Colbie Caillat

Colbie Caillat
Auditorium Theatre – Chicago, IL
The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11
December 4, 2009Colbie Caillat Auditorium Theatre

Each opportunity there is to see Colbie Caillat perform live in Chicago, you can bet I take advantage of it. This girl has grown on me so much since the first time I heard “Bubbly” on the radio and had no clue how to pronounce her last name. It took until the moment I experienced my first listen of “Realize” to truly consider myself a fan of Ms. Colbie Caillat. After catching Colbie’s concert in Chicago this past Friday night for The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11, I have been listening to the singer/songwriter’s newest album Breakthrough nonstop on my iTunes. Seriously, I have Caillat’s second full-length record set to “repeat all” and “shuffle songs.” There’s something about seeing an artist perform live a few feet in front of you that helps to turn their latest release into my current obsession.

More photos of Colbie Caillat after the jump…

Set List / Chicago

Begin Again

Realize

Lucky

Fearless

I Won’t

I Never Told You

Fallin’ For You

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Bubbly

Colbie Caillat Auditorium TheatreThe thing I loved most about Colbie Caillat’s Miracle Near State Street 11 performance at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre was that she included so many new songs in her set. Of course, hits such as “Realize” and “Bubby” from Caillat’s debut album Coco are pretty much mandatory to play whenever the California cutie has a show. However, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Colbie sing so many of my favorite songs from Breakthrough, such as “Begin Again,” “Fearless,” “I Won’t,” and “I Never Told You.”

Even though “Lucky” is technically Jason Mraz’s song and is only included on his latest album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things, Caillat is acutely aware of how much her role in the duet is vital to the song’s popularity. Therefore, fans might be somewhat upset if Caillat did not include “Lucky” in her solo sets. After all, Jason Mraz may be able to fly his partner-in-crime to Chicago for his concert, but Colbie is still on her way to arriving at Mraz’s level of success. Not to worry folks, Caillat’s guitarist Justin can serenade audiences around the country in place of Jason Mraz any night of the week. Jason who? This past Friday evening, Justin and Colbie performed the duet “Lucky” like it was always their duet to begin with.

“How about Kris Allen? I am a huge fan of his,” gushed Caillat. “I got to meet him on American Idol even before he won.” If you haven’t figured it out by now, American Idol 2009 winner Kris Allen performed before Caillat at The Mix’s Miracle Near State Street 11 holiday concert. “I wrote this next song while on tour about an ex-boyfriend after I broke up with him,” explained Caillat before singing “I Never Told You.” The young singer (24 years old) continued to mention her inspiration for the tune’s lyrics and told the audience, “I started thinking about him all the time and missing him, his blue eyes, him sleeping next to me…” Take a listen to “I Never Told You” to hear Caillat’s intimate thoughts set to a beautiful, yet sorrowful melody built off subtle piano and guitar chords. The song structure is so simple, but simultaneously intense and eerily gorgeous. Heartstrings will be pulled when your ears hear this track from Breakthrough.

Colbie Caillat Auditorium TheatrePicking up the pace of the evening, an acoustic guitar was brought out to Caillat. The crowd’s mood was lifted as Colbie and her band proceeded to play Breakthrough‘s lead hit single “Fallin’ For You.” Being the holiday season and all, Caillat took a moment to have a little chat with her fans. “I’m excited for Christmas. I get to spend it at home with my family.” Home for this lucky beach bum being sunny Los Angeles (maybe even Malibu?). Hmm, Christmas in California or Chicago? Not sure about you, but I know where I would be if I had the choice (i.e. not here!).

“This next song I recorded for the Special Olympics and I want to sing it for you tonight,” Caillat said before performing the classic Christmas carol “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” With only her guitarist Justin accompanying her pure and crystal clear vocals, Colbie proved she’s got talent while leaving fans wanting more from the songstress than her opening slot for The Fray allowed. More of both Caillat’s own compositions as well as classic sing-along Christmas carols that is, please!

Colbie Caillat Auditorium Theatre“Are you excited to see The Fray? I know I am,” said a giddy Caillat. “I’m a huge fan of The Fray. I’ve never seen them live before. I’m going to watch them just like all of you are.” Well, it certainly is nice to know that this lady has not forgotten what it’s like to be a fan of another artist. Keeping with her promise, I caught Colbie watching The Fray’s performance from the shadows in the wings on stage right.

Before strumming the opening chord of “Bubbly,” Caillat managed to shout out an enthusiastic “Go Bears!” much to the crowd’s delight and approval. Inevitably, the time came when Caillat had to wrap up her set in order to hand the stage over to the night’s headliner, The Fray. “I wrote this next song when I was dying to fall in love,” prefaced Caillat upon reaching the final song of her performance. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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California to Chicago: A Casual Chat with Colbie Caillat

colbnie caillat

JB: Did you ever anticipate the amount of success you would have with your first album Coco?

CC: No! A friend started uploading my songs and music to a MySpace page that she made for me. I had no idea what MySpace was!

JB: What does it take to maintain the initial success that came with the start of your career as a recording artist?

CC: The hardest part is just getting into the business. I wasn’t prepared. I always had stage fright.

JB: What have been the best and worst parts of your success?

CC: The best part of my success has been the chance to travel the world and have people fall in love with my music even if they speak a different language. Also, being on TV shows and meeting artists who have inspired me and of whom I am a fan. The worst part of my success is that I have no time for a normal life. I have to plan ahead in my schedule to make room for weddings and birthday parties. I used to be able to just hang out at home with my family and friends.

Keep reading after the jump to see what Colbie Caillat had to say…

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