LIVE REVIEW: Macy Gray in Lexington, MA (10.06.23)
When Grammy-winning R&B and soul singer Macy Gray performed at Cary Hall in Lexington, Mass. on Friday, she hyped the crowd with her body-positive, sex-positive and self-love messages. A screen behind her onstage streamed varied imagery including clouds, a TV being smashed, groovy dancers, war imagery and psychedelic designs. The show kicked off at 8:30 with Macy Gray backed up by her band The California Jet Set which featured a drummer, a percussionist, a keyboardist and a bass player. Quite a few times she reminded the audience that she and her band came all the way from Los Angeles to perform. After a half hour, she took a brief break, changed outfits (from a flowy floral dress to a sheer black dress) and returned for another half hour or so. She’s retained her powerful sultry vocal stylings and energetic soulful demeanor. Her voice fills the room and her comfortable, effortless Cabaret-style stage presence makes for a riveting performance.
She encouraged audience participation throughout the night. Lots of call-outs, clapping and sing-alongs. She told everyone to yell out ‘I’m sexy” before she sang the funky “Sex-o-matic Venus Freak.” On the jazzy, upbeat “Relating to a Psychopath” she said: “All the crazy bitches say woo-hoo!” At one point she said, “You sure are quiet for a whole bunch of sexy people.” She then later said, “You’re a tough crowd. Is it a Lexington thing?” A woman called out: “It’s a white people thing.” It’s of course a combination of elements– the suburban crowd, the mostly white crowd, the mostly older crowd, the historic sit-down venue and Friday after work energy levels. She wondered how many people went to church on Sundays– only a handful of people. Clearly this show was the audience’s church outing for the week as Gray encouraged leaning your head back to scream to the Heavens so that your voice gets heard. By the end of the evening, Gray succeeded in getting the crowd up on its feet and dancing.
Macy Gray has released eleven studio albums. On Friday night she performed five songs from Reset, the newest album released at the beginning of the year; five songs from 1999’s On How Life Is, a couple songs from the id and a few songs from Ruby (2018) along with covers of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” and Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny.” Stand-outs included: “Mercy,” a slower tempo, rhythmic song, and the emotional, wistful “You Got Away”–with the lines “I never knew I’d miss you like I do/ But here I am all up in my feelings… you checked out and left all your demons” as well as the beautiful love song “Sweet Baby.” During the encore she had the crowd sing the chorus to her biggest hit “I Try.”