February 19, 2019 at Great Scott
While sweet and down-to-earth in nature, Meg Mac sure doesn’t hold back when it comes to her songwriting.
Australian pop singer/songwriter Meg Mac didn’t leave anything unsaid when she introduced herself to Boston on the first leg of her US tour. Taking the stage in front of an energetic and intimate audience at Great Scott, her Aussie charm and universal talent left the crowd begging for more.
Alongside bad-ass electric guitar and full-bodied delay, Mac stepped onto the stage to launch the set with “Grace Gold.” Her commanding stage presence and heart-stopping vocals won the crowd over in the first 20 seconds, with collective “woahs” resounding from around the room.
Mac didn’t tame her performance at all for the small Tuesday night crowd; her set felt polished enough to be seen on a stadium stage. Her vocal ability is a knock-out in and of itself with killer tone, crafted control, and an indescribable, emotive quality that is hers alone. Performing with her sister Hannah on vocals and her guitarist, Ben, the set flowed through a full dynamic range despite the minimal instrumentation. Mac alternated between vocals and piano, even making her “debut,” as she put it, on a drum pad for one of her new songs.
Three-part harmonies added texture and tension, made more wonderful by the entwined sibling blend between Meg and Hannah’s voices. The harmonies alongside thoughtful instrumental arrangements and subtle electronic tracks ensured that the set never felt thin or insubstantial.
While sweet and down-to-earth in nature, Meg Mac sure doesn’t hold back when it comes to her songwriting. She unashamedly confronts the messy aspects of life like disappointment, desperate hope, unhealthy relationships and dishonesty with musical arrangements that embody the frustrations and create a redemptive release for all who listen.
The highlight of the night was Mac’s performance of her recent single “Give Me My Name Back.” Upon its release in October 2018, the single made a massive impact in Australia, becoming a local anthem for the “Me Too” movement. Mac explained to the Boston crowd that it was a song for anyone who has ever lost a part of themselves through relationships or abuse, an encouragement to take back what was stolen. The weight of the song could be felt in the room as her voice confidently rose above the minimalistic arrangement that embodied the vulnerability of the topic. With a driving, demanding bass line building the tension, Mac’s vocals broke through and declared the demand: “Give me my name back / What are they gonna call me now / I want it all back.”
As Mac stepped off the stage at the end of her set, the crowd didn’t accept that as the end and cheered relentlessly until Mac returned to the stage for what she said was an “unexpected encore.” Her down-to-earth attitude was evident when she embraced an open discussion with the crowd about what song she should do. Eventually, “Low Blows” was selected, despite Mac not having rehearsed that song for the set. She and her band rolled with it and, after a few technical hiccups, presented the audience with the requested, “very unrehearsed version of ‘Low Blows’”. Obviously, the unrehearsed aspect didn’t faze the audience, as it seemed like 90% of the crowd stuck around after the show for a chance to chat to Mac and express their admiration.
As an Australian myself, seeing the Boston crowd embrace Meg Mac with so much excitement felt like a close friend meeting another close friend. If Boston’s first impression of Meg is anything to go by, the rest of her US tour should be met with similar adoration.