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Meghan Trainor At Irving Plaza, Friday, March 13th, 2015, Reviewed

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Meghan Trainor At Irving Plaza, March 13th, 2015

I wonder who the hell booked Irving Plaza for Meghan Trainor. It sure wasn’t a ten year old girl because I was surrounded by em and none of them could see a damn thing as six foot two linebackers pushed their way in front of the kids to sing along to “Walkofshame”. It was a remarkably rude display of proto-male arrogance and resulted in at least one fight I noticed. Though on the plus side., I could see the stage for once.

I was actually near Meghan Trainor’s parents. a sweet looking couple, the father with a square head and the mother with a wide smile, they were far from the maddening crowd with the sound and lightning duo, when Meghan shouted them out and also dedicated “What If I” to them: “I dedicate this next song to my parents for being in love for so many years. I love you guys, and someday I want to be married just like that.” You would think that if ever the 21 year old songwriting phenom was going prove it live it would be here and now in front of her parents, but  with the exception of a ukulele acoustic take on “Title”, this was a bad, lazy show.

Trainor is a gifted songwriter, I really like all three of her albums, and I like the concept of her: she’s like a songwriting Bette Midler for the 21st century, but on stage she considers Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande as her competition and if it hurt her third album, the disappointingly overproduced  though not bad Title, it stank up this oddly antiseptic gig.

Epic Records have Meghan placed as a teeny bop sensation when she is, in fact, more than that. The result was an evening of teeny bop performers, starting with 14 year Matt Prince, signed to Epic two months ago, as they position him like a Michael Jackson slash Justin Bieber in waiting. And he might just do it,. He has a good voice and a pleasing disposition. Sheppard are better. Aussie indie pop who hit big with “Geronimo” last year. The siblings George and Emma trade lead vocals, and Amy plays keyboards. The set began with a bang, “Hold My Tongue” and “Smile”, though they sustained  the high spirits through the entire half hour, the material slackened a little, still a rousing singalong to their big hit brought the house down to close it out. I really love the album Bombs Away (my review here) and Sheppard made a lot of friends.

Meghan started with the excellent “Dear Future Husband” -in its own way a typical Trainor track, both imminently catchy, kitchen sink sound, smart as a whip, cute as hell… a terrific song and on stage she gave it a lively but not inspired run through. Meghan isn’t a manufactured pop star, she doesn’t go through the motions, both of her pre-“All About That Bass” albums are very very good, the songwriting is impeccable.  NRBQ members Johnny and Joey Spampinato mentored Meghan and Johnny was her guitar teacher. Johnny and I have a mutual friend, who told me Johnny called Meghan as big time years ago. She is big time. She has so much going for her.

But not live, not yet. I wrote last December that it was disgraceful Meghan had to segue her two huge hits at Jingle Ball into a four minute mad dash, but seeing her at the small Irving Plaza maybe they knew something I didn’t know, she doesn’t seem ready for the big time. The band were ciphers, completely generic, her voice was screetchy, and her performance lacked charm. She couldn’t deal with the audience, she doesn’t know how to talk to them. And the poor kids, so many of them couldn’t see anything when parents got tired carrying the preteeners. It wasn’t a good place for the kids.

Meanwhile, Epic are doing a monumental job of mismanaging Meghan: they see her as in a place where she really isn’t. Her gift is her song and her humor, her sense of self. But it doesn’t come across, the songs are there, though the performance wasn’t, but they pushed her into the modern pop mainstream and she is a little uncomfortable. Inviting two young girls on stage, she has no idea what to do with, and speaking to the audience, she doesn’t speak, she shouts out: “All you have to do is come up in front of all these scary people and swing right and swing left.”. Yeah, Tay could teach her a thing or two. The show reaches its nadir with a cover of “Uptown Funk”… what a waste in a very short 60 minute set.

Meghan needs to calm the fuck down, get a good backing band, and play her songs, present herself, for what she is: a gifted singer songwriter. As a pop song writer, there are few better but as a pop performer she is an amateur -we know she can do it, she did it on “Title”, now she needs to rethink what she is doing on stage. “Raise your hands here if you’re different,” she asked the girls. They might be, Meghan wasn’t.

Meghan is performing again on Sunday, she got on stage at 925p.

Grade: C+

 

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