David Jackson reviews Amy Macdonald at the Derngate in Nprthampton
On several occasions during Sunday’s opening gig of Amy Macdonald’s ‘intimate’ acoustic tour, she joked that looking out at 1,000 people spread across three tiers and boxes wasn’t exactly what she had in mind when curating the tour.
Of course, everyone’s idea of ‘intimate venue’ is different and maybe when you’ve sold more than 12 million records on the back of four albums, a Sunday night in Northampton fits the bill.
“I’ve only just realised there's three tiers here”, she joked mid set between songs.
“It’s losing the intimacy minute by minute.”
Not that any of this really mattered, as Macdonald’s set which featured stripped down tracks from across her back catalogue as well as a Springsteen cover, were lapped up by an adoring audience who by the end of the night were (finally) on their feet clapping, cheering and singing along.
Opening proceedings was solo singer songwriter Holiday Oscar who did an admirable job or warming up the Derngate crowed with a range of alt folk inspired acoustic songs.
The rise and success of Glasgow native Macdonald has been a curious one, selling millions without being the product of a TV show now-a-days is no easy feat.
Instead, she simply picked up a guitar and started writing, finding considerable success in Europe along the way.
Macdonald headed to Northampton having recently played at the start of an ATP Swiss tennis tournament with a 50-piece orchestra.
With that in mind, maybe taking to the Derngate stage with just three of her band and a handful of acoustic instruments was as stripped back as thing were going to get.
Opening with her latest album’s title track and then Spark, Macdonald went onto explain how Run almost didn’t make it onto her debut record before playing the single.
Mr Rock & Roll was among one of the early highlights while Give It All Up was transformed into a ballad featuring just Macdonald and her guitarist.
Despite her considerable success on the continent, Macdonald’s strong Scottish accent hasn’t been diluted and whether she was performing solo with a guitar, or with the rest of her band, her powerful voice shined throughout her set.
For someone who early on admitted she was unwell, Macdonald was chatty and funny throughout the pauses in her set, joking with the Northampton crowd and even mocking them on occasions.
“That got a proper laugh in Paris and they don’t even speak English”, and “You’ve got me at 20 per cent – this is pretty **** for me to be honest, but you’re not getting your money back,” just two of the occasions ripples of laughter broke out.
It’s a testament to Macdonald’s performance and her professionalism that if she hadn’t admitted early on she was unwell, it’s genuinely unlikely anyone inside Derngate would have noticed.
After closing her set with a euphoric version of Dream On, Macdonald and her band returned for an encore which included a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark before ending with Poison Prince.
Macdonald left the Derngate stage with her band saying illness aside, it had been the “perfect start” to her tour and it’s unlikely anyone would disagree.
For more details and other shows on this tour, visit amymacdonald.co.uk