Amy MacDonald

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Graeme Thomson

three stars

AS Amy MacDonald notes with a degree of incredulity during this sold-out show, it’s been ten years since her windblown ode to carpe diem, This is the Life, set her on her way. She hasn’t changed so much: a few more tattoos, a slightly sleeker style, more power and range in her distinctive voice.

Her speciality remains folk-rock marching songs with a melancholic, minor-key twist, tonight stamped out on sparkly heels, backed by an unfussily accomplished five-piece band. Faithful versions of Mr Rock and Roll, This is the Life, Youth of Today and an emotive Run from her first album are greeted rapturously, but MacDonald isn’t content to rest on old glories. “Have you all bought album number four?” she asks us, shortly after plugging the branded mugs for sale in the foyer. I’m not sure about the merch, but she’ll have shifted a few more copies of her new album, Under Stars, by the morning. Automatic is irresistibly immediate, and Dream On feels like the grown-up big sister of This Is the Life, driven by the same restless, romantic urges.

MacDonald sings with impressive conviction, but her songs can verge on the pedestrian. Over 100 minutes, it’s the deviations from the default that stand out. A starkly re-configured 4th of July; a fun cover of the Doobie Brothers’ Listen to the Music; best of all, the sultry, gospelized Down by the Water, played as an encore. She ends with Let’s Start a Band, from her debut, its lyrics a wish list of career achievements. Now that they’ve all come true, perhaps she could allow herself a few more risks.