Macy Gray was in fine form in Atlanta on Tuesday night, her performance and personality perfectly suited for the smaller intimate setting provided by the Variety Playhouse. Resplendent in her signature sequined cocktail dresses and boas, Gray is in the midst of a long US tour to promote her latest album, “The Way”, which was released earlier in October. Gray treated the audience to an hour and a half of her soulful, raspy, vocals as applied to her material, old and new, and several covers.
Macy Gray’s distinctive voice has always set her apart from other R&B and soul singers. Part of her appeal is how her rasping voice treats some of the tender lyrics her songs provide and that contradiction is incredible powerful, especially live!
Throughout the evening, Gray provided a high-energy, engaged performance that demonstrated the many vocal talents of the grammy-winner. But it’s more than just her voice, it’s her stage presence that draws people in. She struts, leers, smiles, and winks, all the while admonishing the “sexy people” in the audience to join in, or dance, or both. This attitude, coupled with her sequined outfits, and her great voice ensures the crowd are entertained all night long.
In a set that focused heavily on her latest material, it’s clear that while the music has a strong pop melody there is some harder undertone provided by both the lyrics and her unique voice that makes the music that much more alluring. “Glad You’re Here” was excellent as was “Bang Bang”. “I Try” was given an upbeat make-over and a Bob Marley “Everything’s Going To Be Alright” interjection that was okay but not the highlight I’d anticipated.
A recurring part of her live performances are the covers she does. One of her favorites is Melanie’s “Brand New Key” which worked well. Better yet was her treatment of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which came hot on the heels of her own “Sexual Revolution.” Both songs providing a seventies disco feel.
Between songs Gray was quick to interject anecdotes about the songs, about the humorous, if exaggerated, reasons for being in Atlanta all the while recognizing just how much fun she was having on stage.
One of the highlights of the evening was the first song of the encore, another cover, this time of Radiohead’s “Creep” which played perfectly into her vocal talents. She finished the encore with “Stoned” off the new album and her standard set-ending song “The Letter”.
Macy Gray was supported by two very different, but equally entertaining, musicians. Marian Mereba, a local guitarist and singer-songwriter whose musical style paid homage to acoustic folk music over the past thirty years. Corey Nokey, a flamboyant throw back to the New Wave styles of the 80’s, played a set that included his versions of songs her wrote for artists like Destiny’s Child and Lady Gaga.
Why Didn’t You Call Me
Glad You’re Here
Moment to Myself
Ghetto Love (Superstition – Stevie Wonder)
Brand New Key (Melanie)
Relating To A Psychopath
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? (Rod Stewart cover)
Me With You
Let You Win
I Try (Everything’s going to be alright)