New Yorker Ingrid Michaelson may have only just released her UK album debut, but with four hit albums Stateside, Michaelson is one of the best selling independent artists to date. With her reputation proceeding her, London’s Scala was full to the brim with anticipatory music lovers. With a senstational warm-up set from Ingrid’s reported boyfriend, Greg Laswell, the mood was right for Michaelson to take centre stage. Equipped with just one bandmate (Allie Moss), a keyboard, a guitar and ukulele, Michaelson jovially launched into “Die Alone”. With an immediate singalong response, the pro-performer launched straight into audience participation. Immediately apparent was Michaelson’s addictive presence, appealing good humour and masterful stage craft. From the outset, it was clear that Michaelson was bound to impress.
Now, I am someone who is happy to admit when they are wrong, though album Everybody demonstrated Michaelson was an ‘upbeat, determined’ recording artist, there had been the presumption that she would prove to be another lacklustre live performer. In a year that has seen the female recording artist rise, many have fallen in terms of live capabilities. Michaelson won’t be one of the casualties. With a stripped back, acoustic set, Michaelson proved herself to be a valiant vocalist, unafraid of her audience. From the get go, Michaelson interacted fully with her adoring audience, even scouting talent in the shape of willing volunteer Alison to join the cannoning vocal of “The Chain”.
“The Light In Me” saw Laswell rejoin Michaelson centre stage for a country tinged duet. Echoing the authentic chemistry of Johnny Cash and June Carter, “The Light In Me” could have been sickly sweet but instead proved to be genuinely beautiful. Gleaming with pride at her positioning on the Radio 2 playlist, Michaelson introduced current single “Maybe”. Determining herself as “not a celebrity”, Michaelson’s modesty sets herself apart from the pack. Her performance gaining from her honest enjoyment.
Without a doubt the best live set all year.
With an impressive back catalogue on display, Michaelson treated loyal fans to favourites from the past. Nearly an hour and a half slipped by unnoticed before Michaelson slinked off stage. The crowd roared and Michaelson was only to happy to return for more. Insisting that she played something more upbeat given her happier state of mind than when she had written break-up record Everybody, she treated everyone to a mesmerizing “Keep Breathing” and breath-taking “Creep”. But even that was not enough to quiet the roars. Returning for a second encore, Michaelson treated her persistent public to an as yet untitled, never before played track.
With the venue’s doormen pushing the reluctantly departing audience out of the door, Michaelson finally said goodnight. Having noted that there are only four essential ingredients to a perfect gig — a good bandmate, a great audience, a super sound system and a fan pointing on stage, it appears that Michaelson forgot the most to mention the most important element — a humble, good humoured, charming, talented and engaging performer at the helm. Having entered the Scala sceptically, Michaelson’s magic spell was well and truly cast. Without a doubt the best live set this reviewer has seen all year.
Ingrid Michaelson has kindly donated five copies of her album Everybody for zap! bang! to give away. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, just email your name and address to email@example.com.