How do you know a band is ridiculously hot? When nearly 9,500 fans trek to Red Rocks in cold rain, and most endure all the way through a marathon encore.
On night one of its home stand, Denver’s the Fray took the stage as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” played. Isaac Slade’s first shout out was “303!” He proceeded to put his fingers to work on his piano, close his eyes, and open his mouth to warble “All At Once,” “Over My Head” and more.
Slade and Joe King performed a sweet, acoustic rendition of “How To Save A Life” from the amphitheater’s VIP section. The audience provided back-up vocals, manifesting Slade’s lyric: “All at once the crowd begins to sing.”
Eventually, all four members of the Fray gathered for an acoustic collaboration in the roped-off pocket in the center of the crowd. Slade slayed an accordion. Later, he jogged up one set of stairs and down another, thrilling fans, as well as himself, judging from his broad smile.
The Fray is Colorado’s Coldplay. Or maybe that assessment reflected the frigid temperature, low enough that the singers puffed out vapor clouds with vocals; and musicians blew on their hands to thaw fingers.
The Grammy-nominated band ended its long, hot set with the newish “Heartbeat.” During the encore’s first song — “Look After You” — my nose and toes froze. On the hike to the car, the band continued to jam, and fans continued to scream. As for Dorothy and Toto, so too for the Fray: “There’s no place like home.”
Back-up act Dia Frampton, plucky in a ponytail and skinny jeans, suffered serious sound glitches. The runner-up on “The Voice,” her vocals were barely audible in the opening numbers, but her talents warmed up the stage as much as possible on such a bone-chilling night.
Colleen Smith, a longtime freelancer at The Denver Post, is the author of the novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier.”
Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.