David Gray says he hopes his upcoming Irish gigs in Dublin and Belfast to mark the anniversary of his breakthrough album White Ladder will be "a giant singalong."
White Ladder was Gray's fourth release and went on to become the biggest-selling album in Irish history. Gray credits a 'couple of thousand' of fans as crucial in the early days of his career, which included thinly-attended gigs in Dublin and Cork.
"With that power behind us and the invisible force field that the Irish fans gave it, we began to believe we could do it anywhere.
"The accepted narrative in the music biz was that Ireland was some kind of archaic backwater that had no relevance to the UK music business or the American one," he said. "You've still got something here that's special, that's been lost in other places."
White Ladder was recorded cheaply in his home, with no elaborate instrumentation or studio gimmickry. The singer released it on his own label in an initial pressing of 5,000. That number sold out and then there was a second pressing.
"I famously had to take a car-load to the airport to get them to Ireland in time for the Christmas rush," he said, recalling that the album would not have happened without the boost from his Irish fans. He described their support as " the platform it was built on."
The record subsequently sold 350,000 copies in Ireland and 7.8 million worldwide.
Gray is now reunited with his old band from the original 1999-2000 White Ladder tour. "They built the whole roller-coaster ride," he said, paying tribute to his pals with whom he rehearsed last week.
"It was a really lovely and emotional thing to play the songs with all the old sounds and the way we used to play them, it's been a long time since we did it."
The singer-songwriter and his band also performed Babylon, one of the best-known songs from White Ladder, with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra on The Ray D'Arcy Show.
David Gray and band will play White Ladder in its entirety at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Tuesday, March 31, and in Dublin on Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3.