As a violin player from Decatur who’s equally proficient at bluegrass, country or gospel and an English piano player/guitarist best known for adult alternative, indie rock or folktronica, Alison Krauss and David Gray virtually had nothing in common, despite sharing the same bill. And while each artist brought their own dedicated fan base to the Rosemont Theatre, appreciators of sophisticated singer/songwriters in general could’ve easily found common ground no matter who they specifically came to see.
No, the man behind “Babylon” (who promises fresher material than 2014’s “Mutineers” is on the way) didn’t mirror Krauss sonically in any way whatsoever, but when given about as much time to revisit his own brand of introspective material, was similarly heartfelt and capable of bringing comfort to an absorbing crowd.
Up first was Krauss, her six-piece band of veterans and newcomers, plus an accompanying female vocalist, who sounded as if they descended directly from heaven for 85 enchanting minutes that touched on most every phase of nearly 30 years and 27 Grammy Awards. “I’m glad to be with my own people,” she joked of the home state crowd (even if her backdrop more closely resembled the Grand Ole Opry) and made everyone feel like part of the family for Union Station standouts “The Lucky One” and “Restless,” the Robert Plant collaboration “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack gem “Down To The River To Pray” and several selections from the current collection, “Windy City.”
The Glen Campbell remembrance “Gentle On My Mind” was another winner, though Krauss really struck a nerve of peace and beauty with a string of spirituals alongside The Cox Family (“When God Dips His Pen Of Love In My Heart,” “Walk Over God’s Heaven,” “When I’ve Done The Best I Can, I Want My Crown).” Her angelic range continued across a sparse treatment of the gorgeous encore “When You Say Nothing At All” before tying it all together with the glorious “A Living Prayer.”
Co-headliner Gray scaled back the production to just a smattering of portable spotlights and some stationary beams overhead, switching between the grand piano and acoustic guitar with his voice in dependable form. He performed completely solo for several selections, even cleverly looping himself throughout “Slow Motion” (eat that Ed Sheeran), toying with a snippet of The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” and skipping the electronics for a more intimate edition of “Please Forgive Me.”
Shortly after he was joined by a three-piece band for “Fugitive,” a woman called out “we just want you David,” though Gray either didn’t hear her or wisely ignored the awkward remark to continue cranking through “Sail Away” and “My Oh My” with the worthy musicians. No, the man behind “Babylon” (who promises fresher material than 2014’s “Mutineers” is on the way) didn’t mirror Krauss sonically in any way whatsoever, but when given about as much time to revisit his own brand of introspective material, was similarly heartfelt and capable of bringing comfort to an absorbing crowd.
For a list of upcoming Jam Productions shows, visit JamUSA.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Rosemont Theatre include Brian Wilson with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin: “Pet Sounds” The Final Performances (Oct. 6); MercyMe (Oct. 15); Kenny Rogers: “The Gambler’s Last Deal” (Oct. 28); Niall Horan (Nov. 15); Jerry Seinfeld (Nov. 17); Ana Gabriel (Nov. 19); Johnny Mathis (Dec. 1) and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (Dec. 15). For additional details, visit Rosemont.com/Theatre/.