Transcendence on a Tuesday Night: Robert Cray at The Birchmere
Robert Cray seemed to be sitting on top of the world from his vantage point on the stage of the Birchmere. Fronting a crackerjack band, he was in good spirits and excellent voice as he took the audience for a thoroughly mesmerizing trek through his musical career.
Backed by Les Falconer on drums, bassist Richard Cousins, and B-3 master Dover Weinberg, the rapport between Cray and his comrades was fluid and flawless. Throughout the evening the four men worked their magic on Cray classics like “I Can’t Fail,” “The Things You Do to Me,” and “I Shiver,” much to the joy of the sold-out crowd.
“Sitting on Top of the World” featured a gorgeous piano solo from Weinberg that clearly delighted Cray and company. Cray let his fret skills and mastery of tone convey an impressive range of emotion song after song, drawing his audience into the heartbreak and loneliness at the core of the blues. On the slow numbers watching his fingers climb the neck of the guitar was like seeing a spider crawling across his web, every movement precise and purposeful.
The best vocal of the evening was “Time Makes Two,” a ballad about the fragility of relationships that Cray owned from the inside out and that had the room so quiet you could hear your own breathing.
On “Your Good Thing is About to End,” Cray seemed to transcend the physical boundaries of the stage, engaged in reverie. He was at peace, relaxed, in the center of a maelstrom of notes, in a storm of his own making, as the song itself swirled around him.
A couple of standing ovations and a three song encore later, the satisfied audience filed out into the night air carrying with them the afterglow that only great live music can deliver. www.theflamestillburns.com