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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Amy MacDonald: Live at the Nottinghams Royal Concert Hall 2010

I’ve truly struggled to repress the guilt of slating Amy MacDonald’s (AM) last single, truly I have. I championed her debut LP to anyone who’d listen and to anyone who wouldn’t for that matter. I’ve come here tonight to review the final show of her 2010 tour and by gad I’m hoping to find some kind words! Surely her playing venues such as this goes a long way in illustrating the success which AM has accomplished; but can she do her thing on the live circuit?

Being accustomed to more student-orientated establishments and their laxer laws, I found my debut appearance in the Nottingham Royal Theatre to be something of an eye-opening experience indeed. I finally warmed to Paddy (one of tonight’s security detail) after an initially frosty reception; he wasted no time informing me that my (apparently oversized and forbidden) camera wouldn’t be allowed. After explaining my professional capacity, he escorted to the foyer for a limited photographers permit and then on into the venue where I learn of the photography parameters I’m afforded!

Once acclimatised and educated in the ways of the theatre, I begin to relax a little and take a look around me. Sharp, shiny, vibrant and classier than what I’m accustomed to, the people here tonight certainly go a long way to reflect the venue and stature of the event. It takes no more than a few minutes to see that a goon like me perhaps belongs elsewhere! Still, I’m dressed to infiltrate (you know, smart-like!) so I’m going in...

Sisters Jane Cat Ruth and Lucy AKA The Roads play out their supporting role with effortless and exquisite allure and despite their invariance, their songs and sound please all present and owing for their linear act, it’s sad to think that they might become just another criminally overlooked band. Entering Radiohead territory here and (somewhat unsurprisingly) touching upon the likes of The Cranberries there, it’s hardly fair to see them in the support slot, just as it is to see them so poorly represented in the merchandising department too... their pesky PR company needs to get their backs!

After a short interval (which I spend investigating tonight’s solely AM merchandise) AM hits the stage with no introduction other than the roar of tonight’s close to capacity crowd.

“Wow, it seems like two minutes since we played Nottingham, only smaller gigs and venues with no stage so thank-you”. At the close of her first song, AM already has her audience wrapped around her little finger with just that one-liner. She really does have the common touch and clearly appeals to the people, who mid-way through the second song are seemingly captivated.

AM goes on to share a tale of how she’s come to land a support slot of sorts for one Neil Diamond (go Amy!) who asked her to contribute one of her very own songs to a showcase concert of dome sort. There was more to the anecdote which involved Hannah Montana and McFly, but I really can’t read my all of my intermittently darkness-born scribble!

With around ¾ of the crowd singing along to one of AMs earlier tracks, it becomes apparent that most people here tonight have followed AM throughout her short but sweet career. Towards the close of the song most people are dancing & clapping, standing ovation style and I too am once again smitten. The display of affection doesn’t go unnoticed either and AM comments and endears once more: “it’s like being at a wedding, watching everyone gradually stand-up, thinking should I, shouldn’t I? Ha...”

(Cutting short what turned into a long and horribly scribbled story) AM closes with a well received cover of the Boss’ ‘Born to Run’. However, I can’t help but feel unconvinced at the close of the show, despite the fantastic atmosphere (my best friend hindsight tells me its fervour) in the room. All three tiers are stood applauding AM, me included. She’s undeniably done a great job but from the objective viewpoint of a critic, is it deserved?

The confident performance was strong but failing to stray from the eventually tiring dynamic which held the whole thing together, perhaps lost AM points in my book. I dare say that a frequently motionless crowd might have felt it too, as they perhaps sat hungrily awaiting a hit? The little factor of the music aside, AM and the mood she’s created here tonight certainly explains and to some extent justifies the night’s excitement.

Oh yeah, I took some pics, look here...