Amy Macdonald, Shepherds Bush Empire, London

3.00

 

She's a funny one, Amy Macdonald. On the one hand, she'll happily put the likes of The Libertines forward as being major influences, and then, in practically the same breath, she'll gush about how much she loves Travis.

Pitching herself halfway between the apparent ultimate in alternative-rock cred and the arch-harbingers of comfortable MOR, it's a mixed profile that she's projecting, to say the least.

One thing is for sure, however, it's not a Libertines crowd in attendance at the Shepherd's Bush Empire tonight. For a start, everyone is extremely polite, well turned-out and on their best behaviour. That said, though there isn't exactly any rioting in the aisles, the crowd is devotedto the 22-year old Scottish singer in its own gentle way.

She's got a strident stage presence about her for one so young; she isn't strutting, quite, but you aren't left in any doubt that she owns the place. Certainly, the sold-out crowd is hanging off her every utterance, and while she's perhaps cracking a couple too many weak gags between songs, there's no one showing the least sign of minding.

The songs themselves come in a pretty slick package. It's not complex stuff, but then it's not meant to be. Her songwriting tends towards torch-bearing anthems, like a one-woman Snow Patrol deploying simple, urgent melodies designed to let her mightily impressive voice come to the fore. The set comes in two flavours: jauntily upbeat or gently melancholic, and though at points the songs begin to feel a little similar, she easily manages to carry the weaker ones on force of charm alone.

Macdonald's voice is regularly compared to that of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan. That's a big claim, but live, the similarity is quite apparent: she really does have a powerful set of pipes. It's a shame that she never properly lets rip in the way that it seems like she could – if she ever truly went for it, it'd be a sight to behold. Nevertheless, she sings in warm, luxuriant tones, animating songs that in the hands of a lesser talent could easily sound dour or thin.

The biggest cheer in a night of big cheers is predictably reserved for her one bona fide big hit, "This Is the Life". The fervour is warranted: however you look at it, it's a cracking song. She finishes her encore to a standing ovation. It's probably a bit much, but it feels like I'm the the only one who thinks so.

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