Review by Patrick O’Heffernan, Host of Music FridayLive!
Hotel Café, Hollywood, Saturday night. If you were in Los Angeles this was the place to be. Canadian-born, LA-based soul pop singer Maggie (aka All About Maggie) was introducing her new single “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” with a high-powered concert and a screening of the new song video and you did not want to miss this show.
I got there a little before 8 and the crowd was already filing in. Maggie and her band – Sam Campbell on drums, Nate Evans on rhythm guitar/background vocals, Mike Minjarez on bass guitar/keys/background vocals, Kyle Calvillo on lead guitar, and special guest Jarrett Furst on the carbon graphite cello – were hanging out on the floor chatting with friends as the James Apollo Five finished up their set and the country singer Dawn McCoy came on.
As McCoy sang her last song, there was a surge of Maggie fans through the door. Every chair was filled and the floor rapidly went from relaxed and chatty to crowded and focused. They were here to see Maggie. When her trademark pink microphone stand and microphone were brought out there was a scattering of applause. The overhead projector lit up on the movie screen positioned at the north wall. People stepped back and to watch the wall, then watched the stage, then watched the wall. Maggie had the audience in the palm of her hand and she was not even on stage yet.
When she did come on, the applause was deafening. She took full command of the room. A brilliant contrast in a midriff-revealing white pattered blouse, a short black skirt and black stockings, all by topped her 500-watt smile and sparkling blue eyes, she began her seduction of the audience. There was a new vibe in the room.
Maggie kicked off the evening with her video; all eyes turned to the screen while we watched the inaugural showing of “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes”. As she said on my radio show Friday, what inspired the song was moving to LA, a new place, by herself, not knowing anybody. She was going to make it. The song lays down a marker –
If tidal waves and hurricanes/Come my way
No they won’t knock me down/They will not make me drown
You know I’m strong than that
Maggie easily mixes determination and fun in everything she does.
After the video she launched into her set list, with “Crazy Love You”, co-written with Tanya Leah, about a former beau with a “tilted smile and brown eyes” that showcased her flexible voice, her rainbow-hued story telling set to a strong pop style with head-nodding hooks and sophisticated melodies We were all bouncing along with her.
She kept up the energy and filled the hall with her anthem “Lovesick”, pushing the chorus ‘I kinda like it” to the very back walls with a big voice from her tiny frame. The room was at full on and she was in full command. She continued that command through “Dancing In the Face of Heartbreak” from her Now Hear Me Out Album, “Forgive or Forget You” and “Anytime At All”. Between songs she did what she does so well on her dozens of vlogs: talks with – not at – the audience, even though it’s a one-way conversation. She told stories of the songs and of LA while she introduced her bandmates.
Altogether, Maggie gave us nine songs and the video, a fast moving, totally joyful show, broken up by stories, jokes, a duet, conversations with the band and her trademark relationship with the audience. Some songs were from her album, Now Hear Me Out, some were new and may show up on a EP now in the works, and some were just for fun. The show was completely geared to please the audience and succeeded.
She sang alone with the band in most songs, but toward the end of the show she pickup her acoustic guitar, moving from fun to serious and back again as the song demanded, but always gifting us with her wide-ranging voice that can belt with the blues and hit the high notes. Her band was spot on and well-guided by Maggie with concert-master hand and arm gestures (she not only commands the room, but the band!). Especially noteworthy was her drummer, Sam Campbell who provided the complex rhythms her songs called for with ease and never overshadowed her voice or the others. Unfortunately, as usual, the Hotel Café’s two cabinet speakers and mixer did not deliver the range necessary to separate her voice cleanly from the rest of the band and, unless you were perfectly positioned – about the middle of the floor, some of her lines were swallowed up . I look forward to seeing her perform in a quality sound controlled venues like Witzend Live in Venice or maybe even Hollywood Bowl.
In addition to world-class singing and songwriting, developing amazing rapport is one of Maggie’s strengths. Although she is only 23, Maggie has 10 years of songwriting under belt, and several years of performing. This has given her an easy confidence with a camera and with an audience. She understands how to be very personal without being vulnerable. She is accessible, loveable and fun to be with, but never stops being a star. It is now wonder that in 1 year she has collected 22,000 Facebook fans, 33,000 twitter followers and boasts 13.5 million YouTube downloads.
Whether you are seeing her on a computer screen, smartphone or on a stage, Maggie delivers the best in pop as a personal gift to you. Saturday night’s performance had that quality in spades. I came for the music and stayed for the star.
Host Music FridayLive!