Live Review: The Fray at PNC Pavilion

Jun 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm

It’s funny that The Fray are called what they’re called, because they hardly ever leave any loose threads or ragged edges — whether on their perfectly-produced, radio-friendly songs or live in concert. The piano rock band is so harmless and clean-cut that they probably couldn’t hurt a fly if their lives depended on it.

It’s no surprise, then, that their concert at PNC Pavilion Monday night, opened by Richard Swift and alt-rock band Jack’s Mannequin, felt like a quintessentially American outdoor summer party: laid-back, pleasant and totally innocuous.—-

The concert attracted hordes of tipsy twentysomethings, starry-eyed young couples and groups of sundress-clad, flip-flop-wearing teenaged girls, all of whom bobbed their heads in sync with the energetic frontman of Jack’s Mannequin and sang along to every word of The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.”

Isaac Slade, The Fray’s vocalist, was on point all night (no surprise there), his famously raspy voice sounding even better live than recorded. Guitarist Joe King also took the spotlight a few times, most memorably performing a solo rendition of “Heaven Forbid” at the end of the night.

The four-member group opened and closed their set with soft ballad “Happiness,” bringing the concert full-circle and — need I say more? — tying the night together in one clean swoop.

In all their pitch-perfect, musical flawlessness and good behavior, however, The Fray seemed, well, a bit too safe. The only minor surprise (and, coincidentally, one of the highlights of the night) occurred when they performed a brilliant cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless.” The band couldn’t have contrasted more with opener Jack’s Mannequin, whose lead singer tossed chairs, jumped off his piano and hopped around the stage like an overly-excited puppy (all while singing quite spot-on, I might add).

I know it seems a bit spoiled to complain about perfection, but am I the only one wondering whether The Fray will ever live up to their name?

Image: The Fray on TVs and live at the same time.