Clare Maguire, Bush Hall, London
Friday 28 January 2011
Half-a-million MySpace hits is one modern route to the Cinderella story. It let Birmingham's Clare Maguire sign to a major label at the once unremarkable age of 20. Then she was led through music's corridors of power, drinking with Jay-Z, squired by Rick Rubin to Leonard Cohen's rehearsals, offered a song by an enchanted Jarvis Cocker. Tentatively pushed in 2010, her album (with Ellie Goulding's producer) is finally due next month.
The advance publicity protests too much in emphasising Maguire's "realness" and "authenticity", as if she's a reincarnation of her heroine, gospel great Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She inhabits a different but parallel fairy tale to The X Factor, enjoying her huge voice as much as any of her generation on that show.
For tonight's first headlining gig, Maguire slips on stage in crucifixion pose, burlesqued by a twitch of her glitter-skirted hips. A reel-to-reel tape is as ornamental as her guitarists in a sound based in the huge thwack of 1980s pop production, which her voice is even bigger than. Though she hugs herself as if frozen by the emotional terrain of "Ain't Nobody", she doesn't have the chill of synth-pop siren Annie Lennox, to whom she's been compared. Statuesque poses in the black basque worn in tribute to a somewhat different heroine to Sister Rosetta, stripper Dita Von Teese, soon give way to matey banter with a cheeky drunk about his Twitter account.
The template behind the music, meanwhile, seems to be Florence + the Machine's cover of "You've Got the Love". Her own version of Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" is greeted blankly. Like the slightly awry spotlights swinging around this small hall and never quite fixing on Maguire, the leap to the big time isn't certain. She has that voice – blues through a bullhorn, an operatic vibrato even when she's being delicate. But she's only found one relentless thing to do with it so far.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling