A classic rainy Sunday might usually be accompanied by a duvet, post alcohol/pre-Monday emotional outbursts and never ending scrolling on Netflix. But not last Sunday. Last Sunday was the finale of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival, and oh my did it deliver with the multi-award winning, multi-platinum selling singer, songwriter and actress Macy Gray performing on Colston Hall’s main stage.
Macy Gray became a household name back in 1999 with her debut album On How Life Is. And, although many of us may remember her for the absolute classic I Try, she has gone on to collaborate with some major names like Fat Boy Slim, Ariana Grande and Will.i.am.
With no support acts needed, we made our way into the all-seated main room at Colston Hall. While we generally prefer to stand at gigs, for the type of event we can understand why they chose to keep it seated. The stage set up was minimalist, yet elegant, decorated with only a few vintage lampshades, making sure we could maximise on emotional intent and creating an old school New York jazz bar atmosphere.
Accompanied by a four-piece jazz ensemble, Macy took the stage wearing a classic long dress and her signature feather boa. Her distinctive raspy voice, sent a shiver down my spine almost straight away.
After indulging us with a few classics, I quickly became aware of what an awkwardly British audience we were. Just because we were given seats, doesn’t mean we have to stay in them. Yet, 95% of us seemed to be too worried to disrupt the view of the person behind. You could feel that Macy was trying to tease us on to our feet. She was ‘bigging up’ up Bristol vibes to the max and it was almost embarrassing that everyone was too polite to jump to our feet – even resorting to a comment about Bristol birds having the ‘best vaginas’… but even that wasn’t enough.
Then something awesome happened. Macy covered Radiohead’s Creep – don’t get me wrong, it’s by far not Radiohead’s best tune – but, Ms Gray’s cover was on point and it released a burst of life from the audience, finally.
From that point onwards, more and more people raised from their seats. We embraced one of our favourite new Macy tracks, Annabelle, and then jammed along to Macy’s band as she disappeared for a pretty long outfit change.
Then it was time for the gorgeously reimagined I Try and everyone was finally on their feet. Sunday blues now completely quashed, and no matter if you were 20 or 60, you were swaying away to the beautiful beats.
After a couple more songs, Macy’s magnificent music came to an end. Though I heard, the occasional whisper of the poor sound quality from some people on the balconies, our time was truly magical and we would recommend you all take a listen to Macy’s jazz venture. And we applaud Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival for a perfect finale to another wonderful four day event.
Photography by Louise Roberts.