What was initially a tame show quickly became a communal ballad-belter for Megan McInerney and her fans at the Wool Exchange on Thursday night.
Dressed in a white wide sleeve shirt with a bolo tie, dark wide brim hat, a long black silk jacket and wide leg dark pants, McInerney took to the stage to perform her eagerly awaited debut album, Low Blows.
McInery’s western outfit choice was a tasteful nod to Fort Worth, the historically significant trading post in the American Old West, in which her album was recorded.
The band dressed in all black, coupled with the dark stage, exuded an almost ominous presence. That is, until McInerney’s incredible rich voice filled the venue with a blues-infused buzz for her rendition of ‘Turning’.
McInerney reimbursed the somewhat gloomier vibes of ‘Turning’ with the smooth, dulcet harmonies of ‘Grace Gold’. The second tune warmed up the complex with some brighter red lighting, interrupted by a golden hue fittingly matching the harmonies throughout the song.
The sultry lighting in ‘Grace Gold’ reflected the warmer, silkier tone of the majority of her eagerly awaited debut album, Low Blows.
‘Known Better’ proved to be a feet-stomper, with the whole band – including her backing vocals – clapping to the beat of the punchy song. The evocative melody, coupled with the energy of the band, created a more inclusive atmosphere between the band and the audience, which the crowd gratefully absorbed.
Shortly after heating up the venue with her first three tunes, McInerney removed her jacket and hat, revealing more of her western inspired outfit and bold red lipstick.
‘Kindness’ has received some criticism, being described as ‘lackadaisical’ and ‘disjointed’. However the raw, live edition of this song was undoubtedly a welcome addition to the set. The proficient fusion of what were initially two different songs exhibited the natural and dynamic vocal expertise of McInerney.
At the beginning of ‘Brooklyn Apartment’, McInerney explains that the song was written in an Airbnb overseas. Despite being written separately to the rest of the album and a clear change in musical direction, the song was well received by the audience (most of whom, evidently, were none-the-wiser). This song allowed the band to unfasten from the other tighter, punchier songs of ‘Low Blows’ and find a natural groove.
Rather than being discomposed by the interruption to the flow of the performance brought by ‘Brooklyn Apartment’, McInerney instead utilised the break to include a solo piano performance to the set.
A darkened stage with a spotlight focus on herself and the piano allowed McInerney to demonstrate that her voice is not the only instrument she can use mellifluously. Accompanied by only bare minimum instruments and her raw, vehement voice McInerney stunned the crowd with another ballad.
The band reconvened for ‘Didn’t Wanna Get So Low But I Had To’ where every person in the establishment, it seemed, joined the vocals for the chorus. Entering more into pop territory, this song re-engaged the audience, and was a precursor for more crowd pleasers to come.
A clear highlight in the show came shortly afterwards, with McInerney’s cover of ‘Grandma’s Hands’. The band collectively clapped their hands to the beat, encouraging the crowd to become involved and join in.
‘Maybe It’s My First Time’ came next, firing up the crowd with one of McInerney’s more well-known tunes. McInerney herself seemed to relax into some dancing while performing the song, and utilised her backing vocals to throw lyrics back and forth.
The biggest applause from the crowd came at the beginning of title track, ‘Low Blows’. Clearly anticipating this reaction, the more colourful lighting accompanying the track brought a further energy to both the band and the crowd.
Following the enthused reaction from the spectators, McInerney continued to perform her crowd pleasers in quick succession. ‘Ride It’ and ‘Never Be’ wrapped up the set for a roused crowd, concluding the performance in an uplifting manner.
McInerney played ‘Roll Up You Sleeves’ as her encore, closing the evening by revisiting the roots of her earlier career.
It was appropriate for McInerney to end the set on one of her first breakthrough songs, as her loyal fans have been anticipating the release of her debut album since it was announced in 2015.
The raw, live-in-studio feel to the ‘Low Blows’ record was matched equally by her live performance at the Wool Exchange, with thumping drums and soul-steeped, present vocals igniting the venue.
A drunk guy in the crowd summed up McInerney’s show pretty eloquently with a simple observation, ‘good pipes on that one’.
Where: Wool Exchange Entertainment Complex
When: Thursday September 7 2017
Reviewed by Mia Turnley