Amy Macdonald at Shepherds Bush Empire
Amy Macdonald is Scottish. This is important to know as it’s a huge part of her performance. No, she doesn’t burst out into freakishly synchronised jigs in between songs, but her accent is very much a part of her charm.
Having released her second album last month, Amy had plenty of songs to choose from. And oh, how she chose to play a lot of them. After frantically typing the set list up on my phone between songs, I can tell you that Amy played a grand total of twenty songs. Twenty. That’s a lot of songs for a one-off gig yet alone as part of a nationwide tour. And the reason why she played so much? Because for Amy, her career is not about the fame: for her, it’s 100% about the music.
Opening with anti-celebrity mobbing song An Ordinary Life, Amy embarked on a musical tour of her back catalogue with Poison Prince, LA and Youth of Today from her debut all being played in quick succession. Next up was my favourite song; This Pretty Face, as Amy told us, was written after flicking through a magazine that was dissecting celebrities lives and realising that actual musical ability is becoming far less important nowadays. This is why I love Amy’s music. Her song writing is simple, yet so effective, in telling you about everyday issues in our deteriorating society.
Before playing Spark, Amy announced that it was going to be her next single (although, being the dedicated fan I am, I already knew this). The video was recorded a few weeks ago at Loch Lomond in Scotland (of course) and it’s Amy’s self-proclaimed “favourite” video.
In amongst all the songs about fame, The Road to Home stuck out because of it’s alternative subject: Amy’s dog. I laughed at this. Several of the audience laughed at this. Amy didn’t seem impressed at the laughter. I think the dog died. But all was forgotten when yet another outstanding performance was produced. As this song, and the following two (Your Time Will Come and Amy’s major hit Mr Rock & Roll) were performed acoustically, the drummer and guitarists swapped their normal instruments, on occasion, for the less harsh tones of a tambourine and shakers. Let me just tell you that seeing grown men shake a shaker is an entertaining site.
Next up, Amy successfully tackled the Bruce Springsteen classic Born to Run. I won’t lie, I had not heard of it. But I typed down some lyrics and have just googled them to discover it’s title. Hence I don’t really know if it’s a classic. But for the sake of me having just called it one, I shall hope that it is.
Troubled Soul was performed well before the audience were treated to the story behind the album’s title. (Once again, I already knew it – I really shouldn’t research artists as thoroughly as I do!) In No Roots there is a, perhaps autobiographic, lyric “This life that I lead, it’s a curious thing” and hence those last three words stuck out so much that they became the album title. I wouldn’t call it curious, I’d call it amazing.
Leading single from this album Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over was followed by an anecdote about the band’s football obsession (Amy’s fiancé plays professionally, I believe, in Scotland – although she is far more wellknown than he is –hence the slight retrospective irony in the notably absent Footballer’s Wife). If anyone steps out of line on the tour, they get a red or yellow card. So far, offences have included forgetting lyrics, insulting Amy and, more peculiarly, sweating over a Korma.
Before Amy and her band left the stage, we were treated to another flurry of songs; For me Give It All Up and The Next Big Thing were overshadowed by the stunning vocal performance on Run. To finish the show (or so one might have thought had I not read previous reviews informing me that there would be an impressive encore), Amy performed What Happiness Means To Me. A heartfelt song, it really threw you aback and made you question the happiness in your life. Oh how I love deep lyrics.
The encore consisted of This Is The Life which was a hit with an overexcited audience, specifically amongst some of the older males around me who got up, danced and clapped simultaneously. Love Love was also well received, although the final song Let’s Start A Band was the perfect choice to end the night. The whole audience sang along, so much so that it was still ringing in my ears as I left, and then continued to skip across the park back to Shepherds Bush tube station, screaming my heart out about my desire to start a band.
Woah, this review has been long. I didn’t mean to dissect it song by song. Yet I feel it would be wrong to skip out songs. The entire set was amazing. And credit must also go to the venue itself. For a venue bigger than those that I’ve become accustomed to of late (Bush Hall further away from the station is a personal favourite of mine) I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst I was up on Level One with the more mature, young kids and pregnant (Amy has a very mixed fan base!), the view was perfect and sound quality was excellent. I’d happily return to the venue and I definitely would go and see Amy again.
Shepherds Bush Empire
April 6th 2010
A Curious Thing is out now.