Macy Gray brings funky flamboyance to The Granada

Friday, March 14, 2003

Even before anyone took the stage it was obvious there would be dancing.

Before Wednesday night's Macy Gray concert at The Granada, many fans danced in place to the instrumental R&B piped over the public address system, and when Gray came on as the evening's main event the audience was ready for the business of getting down.

While Lamya (pronounced Lah-maya), the Middle Eastern songstress who opened the show, was mellow and contemplative, headliner Gray seemed to want to turn the venue into nothing less than an enormous house party. And she succeeded. Making her entrance to the strains of her band's '70s-flavored soul and funk jam, Gray had a visual style that would make Pam Grier proud: faux fur coat, bug-eyed sunglasses, hot pink pants and plenty of attitude.

As a performer the Grammy nominee was an enormous ball of unrelenting energy -- a little bit of James Brown mixed with a lot of Tina Turner. She kicked off her nearly two-hour set with "Relating to a Psychopath," the lead track from her 2001 album, "The Id." A massive, talented ensemble backed her. They spent the evening tearing through grooving tracks such as "Sexomatic" and "Do Something," (from her 1999 debut "On How Life Is"), "Sexual Revolution" (from "The Id") and even tossed in a few songs from Gray's forthcoming album.

Great performers acknowledge and include their audiences, making them as integral to the show as the music. When she wasn't singing, Gray was almost always chatting up the crowd members. Even when the artist was belting out tunes she acted as a ringleader to get them dancing, jumping and singing along. While Gray performed "Oblivion" at the end of her set she paraded giant posterboard cue cards so the crowd could deliver every word.

Gray's biggest hit thus far was the platinum track "I Try," and when it finally came as the centerpiece of her encore, the crowd responded accordingly. Between her raspy voice, her unique persona and the way she commanded the crowd, the only thing missing was the block party. But Granada's dance floor was a more than an adequate substitute.