Archive for the ‘A Curious Thing’ Tag

An (albeit very short) interview with Amy Macdonald

I like to think that this makes me a professional interviewer, right?!



Amy Macdonald at The Hard Rock Café

This was to be my third time seeing Amy Macdonald. In fact, it was only in April when I last saw her, but last night’s gig was something different. The intimacy of The Hard Rock Café won the whole crowd over; There couldn’t have been more than one hundred people in the bar area.

Unlike at the Joshua Radin gig, I’d sensibly starved myself since my small lunch to make the most of the free food. Burgers, goujons and brownies were consumed throughout the evening immediately increasing the enjoyment of the evening!

To support Amy, the Icelandic artist Lára took to the tiny stage and performed six songs. Her mis-matched fashion sense defined her with multicoloured leggings and a lace necklace emphasising her look. Her first two songs didn’t overwhelm me with their lack of lyrics and reliance on ‘doo-da’ and ‘la’ to accompany the music. The set came into its own in the penultimate song Honey You’re Gay. With such a direct name, the chorus featured lines such as “You don’t have to kiss my lips/You don’t have to touch my tits” adding to the humour from the title. I’m not expecting her music to be storming the charts any time soon but her voice is good enough when it is matched with the more lyrical numbers.

Amy’s set list for the evening was half the length of her Shepherd’s Bush gig which still pleased me as I wasn’t expecting too much from a free Q The Music Club gig. As her and her four male band members opened with An Ordinary Life I remembered the quality of live performances Amy likes to deliver. Strong vocals and guitar playing on her part combine to create a real stage presence. From her first song she went straight into Love Love before she first spoke to the crowd.

She told us that this was her third gig at the Hard Rock; this somewhat surprised me as she stood there in front of merchandise from notably more famous acts such as The Beatles, Queen and The Who. Her previous appearance had seen her smashing a guitar outside and she joked that this was not something she hoped would be repeated this evening. Maybe she is more Rock’n’Roll than I first thought…

The next song was introduced to us as being her next single with a video that had been filmed only the day before. Unlike previous videos, Amy told us that they’d gone all out and used around fifteen actors and actresses so I am anticipating what the outcome will be. This particularly excites me as the song in question happens to be my favourite from A Curious Thing and is called This Pretty Face.

Her biggest hit, Mr Rock And Roll, suited the venue perfectly and had the crowd singing along. And  she then shushed the crowd with the Glaswegian slang “Wheesht” before her quieter song Troubled Soul.  Her Springsteen cover Born To Run went down really well in this particular venue with everyone joining as she sang the lyrics of the title.

Continuing with her two singles from her new album, Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over and Spark, Amy never once disappointed. Sure, I’d have loved to see an acoustic song thrown in, but her and her band delivered track after track.

Before No Roots, Amy told a similar story to the one she told at Shepherd’s Bush about how this album was named. Laughing at her Mum’s suggestions that had generally been thought up whilst watching Coronation Street, Amy eventually opted for the lyric from this song. I for one find it preferable to listening to an album called Ken Barlow!

Amy then told us that she would normally go away and wait for cheers before coming on and doing an encore, but in such a small venue we would be able to see everything and it would be a ‘bit shit’. So we clapped for her as she stood on stage breaking into This Is The Life. The title track of her debut, it’s a great to song to end on with the crowd lending their vocal skills in the chorus.

A great evening was had by all, particularly some of the people behind me who had certainly made the most of the free drinks. My friend and I hung around for a good hour after the show hoping that Amy would appear. Alas she did not. However nothing was going to put a downer on the evening and we left delighted at the performance we had seen.

Q The Music Club
The Hard Rock Café
June 9th 2010

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.

Amy Macdonald
Shepherds Bush Empire
April 6th 2010

A Curious Thing is out now.

Amy Macdonald – A Curious Thing

Curious. It’s an intriguing word. It forms the name of one of my favourite albums Curiouser. When you combine this with the fact that I loved Amy Macdonald’s debut album This Is The Life, you’d correctly be able to assume that I was excited to listen to this album.

Fame has also been a theme that runs through Amy’s songs. On her debut you had the likes of LA, Poison Prince and Footballers Wife (the latter being, perhaps, a tad ironic given that she is now engaged to a footballer, albeit a Falkirk player!) A Curious Thing offers songs in a similar vain with This Pretty Thing being my personal favourite. “I don’t care if it’s YSL / I don’t care if it’s Chanel”. Simple words. But a clear message. And as I couldn’t care less about the clothes of the righteous ‘celebrity’ I enjoy to hear them being ranted about in a musical format.

Similarly, An Ordinary Life speaks of fame once more. I’ve heard somewhere that it was written about seeing Gerard Butler being mobbed at a premiere and how fame can overwhelm you. Whether this is true is yet to be seen (LA was fiercely rumoured to be about Jake Gyllenhaal before this was later denied), but I love the song.

Next Big Thing is guitary and has a fast pace. Amy can sing at the speed I talk out. Which, for those of you who don’t know me, is very quick. Catchy chorus, verses take a few listens for you to embrace them but after the number of times I’ve listened to it you learn to love it in it’s entirety. The narrative sticks to the third person storytelling thing which has worked up to now so Amy (or her record company) clearly saw no reason to make any sweeping changes lyrically.

The first single Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over has more electro background sounds than previous material. The Scottish accent is immediately present and shines particularly strongly in the chorus. Love Love also sees the accent being very strong. Saying this, the accent is part of Amy’s charm and so can be heard in every song that leaves her vocal chords. I guess it’s a bit of a marmite thing. Love it or hate it. It doesn’t bother me either way. I get the impression it doesn’t massively bother Amy either. She doesn’t through herself out in the media. She sings because she wants to. And so I’d guess that she sings what she wants, how she wants.

What Happiness Means To Me starts off slowly. It also ends slowly. It takes a while to get into – You can’t exactly singalong to it. Aided by the second half of the song being completely instrumental you get some time to sit back and appreciate the music. It’s not conventional. But it works. Speed is also not of the essence in Troubled Soul, however the chorus maintains a slightly faster beat and I am very capable of singing along to it.

The lyrics to Spark really hit you. The chorus is really catchy and full of metaphors. And I can’t help but love a good use of metaphor. In fact, the whole song is basically an extended metaphor. I love it. Your Time Will Come is less metaphorical and slightly more to the point. But equally pleasant.

Also featured on the album are No Roots, My Only One and Give It All Up. Personally, I find these to be the weakest tracks, but none are offensive to my ears.

All in all, I really like the album. Amy’s voice does appear to have matured, as has her songwriting ability. Highly recommended.