Thursday, 23 May 2013

Macy Gray - Melkweg, 21 December, 2012

Possibly too much of Amsterdam’s “Grey Area” time for Macy Gray?

When I was told that Macy Gray was touring following the release of her most recent record, a tribute album (or re-release) of Stevie Wonders “Talking Book” album to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its release, I did feel a certain amount of interest in checking the show out.

  I was not sure that I would want to hear only the Stevie Wonder tracks, but I thought she would probably play some old faithful tracks from her back catalogue, and true to form she did just that.

To me it was kind of a strange show, and to this day I can’t quite pin point why.

First off I think that the band taking the stage about half an hour after the expected start time caused some angst in the awaiting crowd. I mean in Amsterdam, this is practically unheard of. This kind of set the tone for how the crowd felt about the show and there was plenty of chatter about how the performance was going over the evening. A topic that is usually reserved for after the show, but clearly people wanted to talk to their friends about it straight away.

Secondly, at times the sound mixing was terrible and the instruments drowned out any of the vocals Macy was at least trying to belt out. This was very evident when the opening song “Greatest show on earth” was completely butchered and Macy’s vocals were nearly inaudible.

Over the evening the music mixing did improve and the entire band, or should I say “The Sex Fiends”, were introduced and all had various opportunities to solo and duel with each other. A lot of this soloing by the band was; a) buying Macy time for her costume changes and b) allowing Macy not to have to perform as long throughout the concert. Both a) & b) were the acts of a Diva, and that is exactly what Macy is or at least wants to be.

Furthermore, I think all of the band members contributing on stage were all only average. I am not saying they were bad, they just weren’t spectacular and when I compare it to some of the fantastic shows I have seen in Amsterdam recently this group of performers just didn’t quite cut it.

The highlight may have been when the two support divas came out and rapped a tune which I thought that was pretty good. But all up they were nothing special.

This all got me thinking about why Macy was late, why she didn’t have the energy to perform all the songs and why did she spend a fair amount of time sitting down at the back of the stage?

Now I am sure there could be a number of explanations for this, but I couldn’t help wonder if maybe Miss Gray had spent some of her afternoon in the infamous Amsterdam “Grey Area” (or similar establishment). After all she has gone on record saying she love coming to Amsterdam for the laidback drug laws. I don’t think it is a massive stretch of the imagination to think that maybe she had been full advantage of these laid back drug laws all afternoon? Let’s just say she certainly came across that way on stage.

After the show I chatted with a few people from the crowd who were still milling around and most of them expressed their disappointment that the evening had not really been a tribute to the Stevie Wonder album “Talking Book” like it had been promoted. In fact of the ten songs of that album only two had been sung and this did not include “You are the sunshine of my life, or Superstition”.

I however was not too disappointed that this album had not been repeated in full, although I was disappointed not to hear “Superstition” on the night. In retrospect, and having listened to her album again, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing as her version does seem to lack the depth and warmth that Stevie’s originally had.

What the show did have was many of Macy’s old tunes, the ones that I think the majority of the crowd had gone to see. The likes of I Try, Sweet Baby, What did you call me, Beauty in the world and Do Something just to name a few. Also Macy and the band threw in a cover of Psycho Killer by Talking Heads which I quite enjoyed.

The show ended as abruptly as it had begun, the band finished the song “The Letter” and everyone gave peace signs and walked off the stage, house lights came on and “All I want for Christmas” belted out of the house DJ’s desk, the show was over and there would be no encore.

Macy was a Diva, she played a lot of her old songs and she looked a little bit wasted up on stage. So to me, she pretty much met all my expectations. This concert goes into my Amsterdam catalogue of shows attended just next to Snoop Dogg and Lykke Li.


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