Cambridge loves Amy MacDonald. She’s played the Corn Exchange three times now, and the temperate audience was moved to their feet by her performance (prompted by MacDonald commenting on their docile nature).
In fact, at several points people from the audience shouted “I love you Amy”, but were too modest to repeat it when she asked them what they’d said, which is possibly the most British thing I’ve experienced in a while.
Her opening act, Holiday Oscar, was a jaunty and heavily accented folk singer. Although I am usually opposed to artists who provide lengthy exposition to their songs, his jaunty style and polite optimism was endearing.
MacDonald has released four albums over the last ten years, her first being This Is the Life, named after her title track. Her arrangement was a gorgeous stripped-back acoustic set of old classics and her newer tracks, which perfectly complimented the strength and tenderness of her voice. There is something truly mesmerising in the way she sings, her Glaswegian accent inflecting each vowel but retaining the purity and clarity of her voice. MacDonald has achieved something very few in the folk genre have achieved: she stands out and remains distinct without sounding gimmick-y, and she constantly develops her sound.
Most musicians would be exhausted by the end of a tour and would sound exhausted, but MacDonald’s vivacity is striking
Her songs ‘Under Stars’, ‘Leap of Faith’, ‘Dream On’, and ‘Prepare to Fall’, all from her new album, were received with rapturous applause from the audience, with ‘Dream On’ forcing everyone to their feet.
Reaching the end of her current tour, it is clear that MacDonald and her “terrible trio” (her words not mine) have perfected the flow of their set. It only became clear to me half way through that there was no drummer and that all the percussion was arising from her adaptable trio who swapped instruments from song to song. Most musicians would be exhausted by the end of a tour and would sound exhausted, but MacDonald’s vivacity is striking. Despite having already performed in Europe and across the UK her enthusiasm was palpable, and her banter impeccable.
This Is the Life came out ten years ago, and I remember listening to that album at the age of thirteen, completely dumbfounded by how a Glaswegian girl in her twenties seemed to be vocalising everything I was feeling. I felt the same way last night, and I was encouraged by the high turnout because it reassures me that people will still come out to hear honest and beautiful music.