Flying under the radar despite a wealth of album sales, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury ventures to the Philharmonic Hall to discover the real Amy Macdonald.
Amy Macdonald is a bit of a contradiction.
The Scottish singer-songwriter has sold more than nine million albums around the world, has a dedicated legion of adoring fans, her first release has just gone triple platinum in the UK and she is a staple of Radio 2 playlists.
But in the week before her gig at Liverpool, some people gave blank looks, shoulders were shrugged and one even asked “is she Steve’s daughter in Coronation Street?” at the mention of her name.
Despite her success across the continent with a string of chart-topping singles, she’s never had a top 10 track in the UK.
But those who like her love her – and her album sales on these shores amount to well more than a million.
In the Philharmonic Hall, it is clear that the sell-out crowd knows exactly who she is and what they are in for.
Macdonald and her band, all clad in black, take to the stage and launch into a bristlingly urgent version of Under Stars – the title track of her most recent record – with her warm Celtic tones delivering a satisfying Shakira-esque yelp when hitting the high notes.
She rolled back the years but didn’t drop the tempo with Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over and Spark from the 2010 album A Curious Thing.
At times early on, Macdonald‘s vocals were partially swallowed up by the volume of the countrified power pop, but her voice very much came to the fore on an unplugged and rejigged version of 4th of July.
While some tunes blended into each other to form a pleasant but indistinct mush, Macdonald said her set was deliberately ordered to mix up the sequence of faster and slower offerings, which had the lively crowd on their feet almost every other song.
Highlights included a well received cover of The Doobie Brothers‘ Listen to the Music, a jaunty take on new single Automatic and This is the Life which had the whole Phil up and dancing.
Opening the night was Newton Faulkner, with plenty of people already in place to see his beguiling one man band live routine.
It’s particularly impressive how he managed to inject a fair amount of emotion into his sound, even in the more technical moments when he seemed to have an effects pedal, instrument or gadget stretching from every limb.
He signed off with “his party piece” – the full suite of Bohemian Rhapsody where he somehow manages to channel May and Mercury at the same time just using his acoustic guitar – and rightly earned a raucous standing ovation.
Photos by Getintothis‘ Keith Ainsworth