concert reviews

McCue, Asserting Herself at Birchmere
Anne McCue at the Birchmere, Alexandria, VA, Wednesday 27 September 2006

Engaging a crowd of another artist's fans can be a daunting task, but Australian singer-songwriter Anne McCue showed no signs of timidity during her 45-minute set opening for Erin McKeownWednesday night.

McCue had a lot working in her favor. The Birchmere's hushed atmosphere gave her the crowd's full attention, and her husky voice is so assertive that it's hard to imagine her not getting what she wants -- especially on the set opener, a booming "I Want You Back."

McCue never held back, from the growling "Driving Down Alvarado" to a screeching instrumental jam with her backing band at the end of "Hellfire Raiser." Even a switch to an acoustic guitar on the mellower "Bright Light of Day" didn't tame McCue's boldness: She balanced the vulnerability of a night spent with a lover with the casually self-assured comment "When I see you again, will I even care?"

On record, McCue has a knack for selecting covers that showcase her bluesy guitar prowess and her commanding roar even better than her own compositions. That skill translated to her live set, as she gave Tony Joe White's "As the Crow Flies" a heavy, thunderous riff with a Jimi Hendrix flair that was matched by her gutsy moan. With such skill and self-confidence, McCue should have no trouble mastering the headlining slots that are surely in her future.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 29 September 2006; Page C02
.: Selected discography: Koala Motel (Anne McCue, 2006); Roll (Anne McCue, 2004); Amazing Ordinary Things (Anne McCue, 2000).