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David Nail isn't dreaming, he's in Beantown

Royale, Boston, December 8, 2011

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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David Nail could not have made it any clearer that he was quite excited to be playing in Beantown. The big time Tweeter said about as much in his-concert Tweets - calling Boston one of his top 3 favorite cities and totally excited that Tom Brady and Rajon Rando asked to be on the guest list (if they were there, they kept a very low profile).

And the Missouri native underscored just how much he loved being in Boston, saying the first time he was in Beantown about 13 years ago, he rode a train into the city at about 5:30 a.m. from the suburbs apparently just to see Boston.

The fact that he loved Boston was great and perhaps not lost upon his fans (this guy certainly has a tremendous amount of young, single female fans), but that wasn't necessarily going to cut it. The fact of the matter of the matter was that Nail, who just dished out his second disc, "The Sound Of A Million Dreams" a few weeks ago, gave a pleasing show.

While billed as a country singer, Nail isn't exactly hard core. At his best, he delves into soulful, bluesy vocals. A more traditional country sound and instrumentation just isn't part of his equation.

Nail gained steam as the show moved along. The songs were all tuneful and catchy in the beginning stretch, but they also didn't sound all that unique or original. The show worked best when he went the soulful route.

He turned in a good cover of Gavin DeGraw's soulful I Don't Want to Be. He put his own stamp on Waylon's Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way in the first encore. Most singers tend to follow the Waylon route in their own version, but in this case, Nail was comfortable in his soulful rendering of the masterpiece.

Nail gave the perfunctory "how you doing, Boston, Mass" type of line a number of times and also for some reason reminded the crowd who they were there to see. He eventually gave more meaningful comments, which served him far more.

As Nail concluded the gig, he talked about doing one of these types of shows every year in Boston. Perhaps not the perfect concert at all, but Nail did enough good things and has enough enthusiastic fans to make that happen.

Opening act Sonia Leigh is buds with Zac Brown in many ways. She records for his label and has written and played with him. However, don't think that this was some sweetheart deal for Leigh.

Leigh proved herself to be a talented performer in the vein of Grace Potter during her opening set. Truth be told, she's not all that country either and readily acknowledged that she is left of center for country radio programmers, although she has received airplay.

Leigh more appropriately is a blues singer, hard-edged, sometimes on the throaty side, but most of it is very good. So was her one lone straightforward country song (although interestingly not the one released as a country single. Another one was, and was more bluesy than country).

Near the end, Leigh thanked the crowd for being responsive even though "You didn't know who the hell I am." That may have been true most of the people attending, but if they dug a bit deeper and paid attention, they sure do now.