Macy Gray

Live in Las Vegas

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Let the cover of this release be a warning. On the front of Live in Las Vegas, Macy Gray is made to look more like a wax figurine or a Hanna-Barbera creation than herself. Judging from the look on her face, the photo could've been snapped in a hotel lobby by a zealous follower. It's the kind of presentation that should make a lot of her fans wonder what they're getting themselves into. Beyond the location, there's no information provided in the sleeve. A little research divulges that the set took place on March 1, 2003, a few months prior to the release of The Trouble with Being Myself. The track list is fairly balanced between her first three albums, and the songs are often peppered with '70s funk and old school hip-hop references, so the arrangements are rarely identical to what you're used to hearing. It all starts very groggily, with a fake-out intro of "I Try" that abruptly and awkwardly shifts into an instrumental funk freak-out (the kind that normally keeps the crowd occupied while the star is changing costumes or indulging in some water or whatever else is backstage), only to give way to a wobbly "Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak." Gray takes a while to warm up and hit her stride, and even when she's at her best here, she's not delivering a great performance. But what really rankles is that the backing singers are often out of sync, only adding to the sloppiness. Another warning is that this was not released on Gray's label, Epic, but by a DVD vendor that doesn't specialize in this kind of thing. The DVD version does allow you to get the full effect, which would be the smarter option if you must get your Macy fix. At least the images will be there to distract you from the faults of the performance.

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