By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Gray wasn't always such a mild-mannered performer, however. His entrée into the music business came by way of a school-age band called the Prawns that blasted out a long, loud version of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." By the time he attended the Liverpool College of Art, however, Gray had calmed down and started writing melancholy ballads. His debut, A Century Ends, appeared in 1993. Flesh followed in 1994, and the ironically titled Sell Sell Sell -- which only sold sold sold about 10,000 units -- came out in 1996.
Cut loose from all label affiliations, Gray and collaborator Clune began experimenting with studio gear, inserting samples and hip-hop beats beneath Gray's melodies, resulting in a groove-oriented brand of folk music that has proved irresistible to just about everyone who's heard it.
Thanks to Dave Matthews, who picked up Gray's indie version of White Ladder and made it the first release on his fledgling ATO label, lots of people have heard it. The album was recently certified platinum and still resides in the Top 100 on the Billboard album chart.
As a result of his success, Gray is set to release an album of acoustic rarities, Lost Songs 95-98, that initially appeared in Ireland last year. His concert date at the Pageant is only the third stop on his current tour, which is the largest series of North American dates the singer has ever attempted. Apparently there's no reason for Gray to beat down "Babylon" just yet.