Amy Macdonald at Omeara
Upon entering the cosy, intimate space of the Omeara, the stage immediately confronted the audience with its display of instruments. An open upright piano sat at the back next to an array of guitars, including a banjo and a double bass – not a drum kit, keyboard or amp in sight. Amy Macdonald later explained this with a desire to “get back to basics”, as she put it: a simplified return to stripped-back, acoustic performances, demonstrating a sensitivity to the space in which she was playing. Yet despite the occasional tuning error, the singer-songwriter retained a sophisticated and masterful vocal style, which shone through in Run, Prepare to Fall and her solo cover of Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark. This was the penultimate song, and she delivered it in a personal, gentle way, transforming it into something more akin to a love song. The effect was impressive, and much appreciated by the audience, especially as it preceded Poison Prince.
The mixture of tracks was well thought out, and there was a nice balance of crowd-pleasers, minimally arranged pieces and more vigorous, energised numbers. An example of the latter was Spark, which nevertheless managed to retain a heartfelt confidence that belied the polished and perhaps slightly over-rehearsed performance style. The positive side of this was the band’s tightness and in-sync playing, which provided a wonderfully folky support to Macdonald’s dominating stage presence. In I Wish I Knew You Before the double bass came into its own, and in Leap of Faith guitarist Ben Parker freed himself from the role of providing texture, and played in a beautiful, vocal manner. The band’s characterful display had other purposes as well. In Never Too Late the instrumentation dropped down to just piano-accompanied voice, and 4th of July‘s introduction was a very folk-inspired guitar/vocals duet that naturally expanded with the entry of the double bass.
The folk element was certainly the best part of the concert, which was only slightly undermined by the drowning out of the backing vocals by Macdonald’s powerful voice. The artist could, however, have done a lot more to embrace this demonstrable influence, which could be seen most clearly in the instrumentation, vocal techniques and the lyrics of Down By the Water. Doing so would have connected her performance with an ancient and wonderful music tradition. Nevertheless, this was overall a very good concert, and Macdonald and her band were clearly loving every minute.
Photo: Guifre de Peray
For further information and future events visit the Amy Macdonald website here.
Watch the video of Dream On here: