MACY GRAY, opening for SANTANA, at Molson Amphitheatre, August 9. Tickets: $35-$89.50. Attendance: 16,000 (sold out). Rating: NNNN
A stunning performance by soul diva Macy Gray gave notice of a major star in the making.
Beyond the chops, in the form of an unusual vocal technique that's raspy yet still wide-ranging, Gray's got tons of charisma. With her off-kilter style that permeated all aspects of the horn-backed spectacle, she easily took over the Amphitheatre stage.
Traffic snarls coupled with time-consuming bag checks meant the theatre was only a third full by the time she made the stage. But that didn't faze Gray one bit as she and her 12-piece band tore through selections from her smash debut, How Life Is.
Here's an artist who combines sex and strength. Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak was sultry without being a bit stupid, and Do Something packed political punch thanks to Gray's sharp-tongued intro. She's compared to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, but as the nearly 6-foot singer loped across the stage exhorting the sparse crowd to get down, she bore a closer resemblance to Sly Stone than to anyone else.
Even headliner Carlos Santana couldn't pull the focus away from Gray. Two-thirds through the set, as she was milking I Just Can't Wait To Meetchu, the guitarist slipped onstage to lend a few licks to the selection, receiving barely a ripple of applause.
When a young singer eclipses the guitar god 16,000 people have paid top dollar to see, you know she's gonna be huge.