Saturday, 26 February 2011

Amy Macdonald

Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 25 October 2010

“Most people hate their jobs – I love mine!” says Amy Macdonald, looking out into a mosh-pit of wage-slaves on a Monday night. Coming from anyone else this could sound a tad supercilious, but Amy Macdonald, a straight-talking Glaswegian, is doing what she loves and her enthusiasm is infectious.

She’s wholesome, but with rock’n’roll attitude. I can’t imagine her popping pills in her dressing room – she’s so together. Helped along by a very tight band, her show is professional and polished but, at the same time, enormous fun. Polite to a tee, she’s complimentary about Cambridge and even thanks the guitar tech who dashes onstage between every number for keeping her strung and tuned.

One song, ‘Footballer’s Wife’, shows her distaste for reality TV and instant celebrity. She introduces it with a little homily about the importance of hard work. At just 23, with a big-selling debut album behind her and a European stadium tour in prospect, she’s proud to have got where she is by her own efforts, not somebody else’s.

She recalls performing ‘This Pretty Face’ on Swiss TV in the middle of a beauty pageant. Macdonald couldn’t keep a straight face, because the song is saying the exact opposite: never judge by appearances.

For those of us who discovered her through two irresistibly catchy singles, ‘Mr Rock & Roll’ and ‘This Is The Life’, there’s more of the same: the chance for a big singalong on new songs like ‘Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over’ and ‘Love Love’. With their expansive choruses, these are typical Macdonald territory. After all that, the main set ends reflectively with ‘What Happiness Means To Me’. Lured back for encores, she rounds off the night with a tempestuous version of ‘Let’s Start A Band’.

Support comes from The Roads, a London-based quartet, all sisters. Enjoyable, if somewhat too demure for Macdonald’s audience.

[Photo taken at the event by Jean-Luc Benazet. Used with permission.]


Anonymous said...

I never thought much of Amy Macdonald. Her tunes were to easy on the ear, I guess.
And now YOU are writing about her (although you write a whole four months after the event)!
This must mean something.
I started listening to her lyrics. And indeed: she tells stories. She does a nice cover of 'Dancing in the dark' as well, without the pathos of the original.
And, well.. okay: she does not sound like anyone else.

I'll keep an eye on her..

Hans (from Holland)

Anonymous said...

Dear Phil, curiously enough, I recently read an interview of Amy for an italian magazine; the journalist suggested that Sandy Danny could be among her main influences but she answered the she never heard about a singer named Sandy Denny.

Philip Ward said...

Interesting. Thanks, Paolo. “Only connect,” said E.M. Forster. I’m attracted to the idea that everything connects if you can only go deep enough to find the subterranean stratum where the connection occurs. Perhaps that theory is exploded by Amy’s case!