PRINCESS THEATRE, BRISBANE
SATURDAY, JUNE 4
It's no bold revelation to write this and tout Meg Mac as the "real deal". Everybody has undoubtedly known that since the first time they pay witness to that voice! However, what occurs tonight, if you didn't see it for yourself on this recent On Your Mind Tour, then please take it under good authority that Meg Mac has moved her show, her performance and her songs to the next level. Unsure what was going down for her in lockdown, but she well and truly returned, swiftly releasing three of her best singles to date, and putting together one hell of a show.
Her silhouette appears mid-stage, fittingly to the sound of James Brown's 'The Boss' before the band effortlessly move from that into 'Grace Gold', the song which opens her debut album. Hunger makes the music world turn and Meg is hungry! Right away, it's evident that we're watching a powerful Meg Mac V2.0 and she's taking no prisoners. Her sister, Hannah, is right up front and often feels as much "Meg Mac" as the woman herself - Meg makes no qualms stepping back into the darkness and thrusting Hannah into the spotlight often.
The setlist is an embarrassment of riches, feeling much like a greatest hits set from someone of more veteran-status. Still a highlight, 'Every Lie' makes an early appearance as do the likes of 'Ride It' and 'Cages'. A set of new material is the centre piece tonight, Meg revealing she scrapped an entire album before presenting what is effortlessly poised to take the mantle as some her finest material. The excellent 'Only Love' is on the radio, and we know the tour's namesake, 'On Your Mind', but the unreleased stuff includes 'Something In The Water' and 'Don't You Cry', on which her and Hannah sing seated and eye-to-eye.
What follows is a badass masterclass in flexing God-given talent. Meg is professionalism defined, flanked not only by her sister and a remarkable band, but by the Princess Theatre itself. Its sound and aesthetic is seemingly created for the soaring second half of the Meg Mac show. Clearly a timid bird still learning to fly, she coyly admits to adding crowd participation and a set of stairs/strutting platform to this tour, something she hasn't been brave to include in the past. The stairs, in particular, are a simple masterstroke and offer Meg some extra height and, frankly, majesty to her already astounding albeit humble approach to her stagecraft.
'Give Me My Name Back', 'I'm Not Coming Back', 'Maybe It's My First Time' and ' Something Tells Me' is a killer 1-2-3-4 run of songs which feel attached somehow, thematically perhaps, wondering what's the source inspiration here. All of this is incredible and would suffice just fine from a lesser artist, but the best is still to come.
Before what feels a huge deep breathe, 'Is It Worth Being Sad' is an absolute MONSTER of a song. This is the one which will stand strong on the new album. It's truly a behemoth. But even that is an understatement when followed by 'Roll up Your Sleeves', 'Never Be' and finishing on Bill Withers' 'Grandma's Hands' - no silly encore, a power move and straight class.
The word "diva" contains negative connotations and evokes a difficult, prickly personality. Meg seems peerless and feels like she's reclaiming the word and pinning it to her chest in a more accurate, humble and strong way - humble but never to be underestimated or doubted. Clues to suggest she is more attached to gospel and soul and a contemporary approach to old school R&B are obvious and, therefore, she lands her music on the right side of cool, dodging something akin to pop and offering the timeless instead. She is our global superstar in the making.