Macy Gray, Leicester Square Theatre, London
Friday 16 July 2010
Given she released her fifth album last month, it seems unfair to call Macy Gray a one-hit-wonder. Still, nothing she has produced has come close to breaking into the public consciousness the way "I Try" did when it was released back in 1999, and although she has kept on making music, it is not too much of a surprise that tonight this intimate venue is not completely full.
The crowd grows however during her support act, the London singer-songwriter Tinashé. Playing an acoustic guitar and accompanied by a rather enthusiastic drummer, his lively pop songs are full of energy, and he even has time to play a mbira – a traditional instrument from Zimbabwe, where he was born – on one particularly haunting song.
When Gray takes to the stage, the initial surprise is quite how tall and imposing figure she is. This may have something to do with her famously unique hair – her band begins the set wearing comedy afro wigs that are only marginally bigger.
Of course, it is that voice that remains her biggest weapon. It may not be technically perfect, but whether she is singing or just talking between songs, it still has the ability to make you feel as if you are in a smoky jazz club at 3am in the morning.
Equally effective on the livelier songs – such as the funky "Why Didn't You Call Me" – and the slower tracks, the one time it fails to stamp its mark is an ill-advised cover of Radiohead's "Creep", which is played far too straight.
The crowd loosen up once persuaded by the lively band to get out of their seats and start dancing, and they love the inevitable "I Try", which is extended and includes a small deviation into Bob Marley during the middle. It remains a great song, and although Gray may never top it, with that voice she has still got a lot to offer.
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