Amy Macdonald - Manchester Academy
Amy Macdonald comes on stage and swiftly despatches 'L.A.', 'Poison Prince' and 'Youth Of Today', kickstarting the audience with favourites from the first album. The first thing you notice is just how much the songs benefit from being performed live - her band give the songs an injection of energy that the recorded versions sometimes lack, carrying the choruses all the way to the back of the room. This is a dangerous tactic for a singer promoting their second album - how do you keep the momentum up?
For the most part she succeeds by cannily mixing old and new and keeping things interesting, including a short acoustic set with her band showcasing an obvious vocal talent, and featuring gentle versions of 'Road to Home' and 'Your Time Will Come'.
The big surprise of the evening is a mid-set solo cover of 'Born To Run', admittedly about as indestructable a song to cover as they come, but the resulting singalong carries all the way to the back.
It's 'Run' that gets the big reaction of the show, showcasing both the power of her voice and of her way with a big chorus. That's not to say that the new stuff isn't welcomed enthusiastically - recent single 'Don't Tell Me That It's Over' gets a rocky makeover and a deservedly warm welcome, while the forthcoming single, 'Spark' has the crowd clapping along immediately.
Crowd banter is quite minimal, but she somehow manages to drop a name into almost every chat - be it seeing Howard from Take That going into Harvey Nichols ("But I'll stick to Top Shop"), or having Paul Weller play on the album, something she's quick to pick up on and mock. It's perhaps this self-effacing charm that helps her appeal to a wide demographic, from very young kids in the front row to the older blokes at the back who demonstrate some alarmingly enthusiastic dad dancing when 'Mr Rock & Roll' makes an appearance.
The encore brings a couple of favourites from the first record - 'This Is The Life' and 'Let's Start A Band', revitalising the crowd - it has to be said that energy levels dipped during the final third of the main set - leaving an audience clearly wanting more.
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