Macy Gray at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Macy Gray landed on the pop scene decades ago with a rather unintended bang. Instantly recognisable for her distinctive raspy vocals and eccentric stage presence, these days the singer-songwriter has centred herself around jazz and her new album Stripped, which was released in the autumn of last year and includes new versions of her previous hits as well as new material.
Arriving nearly half an hour late to raucous applause, the American musician waltzed on to the Shepherd’s Bush stage with a stumbling gait before grabbing the microphone to announce that she wanted the audience to shout their names, heralding to the world they were alive and here. It was a theme that continued throughout the night as she dragged the mic stand around the stage, offering words of wisdom. Each time the crowd eagerly responded and their chants of “Macy” rung through the venue.
As performances go, Gray’s was less about technical prowess and more about swagger, to the point of her seeming to be drunk on the music. Accompanying her distinctive sound, a talented four-piece band flew into jazz and funk numbers, keeping the beat rolling between songs with a flare of drums and keys. It was a shame only that the artist’s vocals were often lost within the music, with her signature rasp not quite carrying over the more funky tunes like So Glad You’re Here. More balanced were the retro soul jazz of Relating to a Psychopath and the peppy Sexual Revolution. As she is wont to do, the singer also gave her signature turn of Radiohead’s Creep.
For her finale, Macy Gray stood back and let the audience sing her smash hit I Try, her head bowing and hands spread open to say her fans could do it more justice than she could.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit the Macy Gray website here.
Watch the video for Stop, Drop, Roll here: