Australian singer Meg Mac, who gained acclaim for her original take on R&B with a dark, pop-infused sound, showcased all her talent and charisma in her first U.S. solo tour at Union Stage on Feb. 23.

Union Stage stands in stark contrast to the rest of District Wharf, a recently modernized mile-long stretch of waterfront real estate devoted to music, food and all other forms of leisure. The neighborhood is loud and full of life and a little bit of extravagance. Union Stage, one of the many concert stages that was created within the Wharf as part of the renovation project, stands as a small and dimly lit basement space, with an even simpler stage.

The venue provides an intimate setting for its audience with a stage that probably only fits four artists with their instruments. It has the type of familial, intimate ambiance that allows for a reflective performance. The space requires a mesmerizing, powerful musician and lyricist to command the room with little musical support — perfect for Mac, one of the fastest-rising new artists of the day.

@MEGMACMUSIC/INSTAGRAM | Australian singer Meg Mac balanced a charming rapport with the audience while delivering a performance that is even better than her recorded work.

Armed with nothing more than a guitarist, a drum machine, occasional keyboards and lyrical support from her younger sister Hannah Mac — a solo career-worthy talent in her own right — Mac used her distinct, impressive voice to drown out everything else, entrancing the entire audience. For roughly an hour, eyes were glued and ears perked up.

Mac engaged an enchanted audience with funny messages and stories, like being so cold when first coming to the United States that she had to buy “one of those sleeping bag jackets.” She also shared more thought-provoking reflections, however, and the rationale for certain lyrics and themes.

When Mac lived in a big city in a tiny apartment with thin walls, where she could hear and see so many people around her, she was inspired to create the song “Brooklyn Apartment.” The tune is a sweet account about what being home and surrounded by your loved ones means. She talked about “Give Me My Name Back,” a piece that has been lauded as an anthem to the empowerment of women and made shocks after its release in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

Showing off some work from her first EP like “Every Lie,” Mac provided a raw, powerful vocal with all the hardest-hitting elements of soul, rhythm and blues. She complimented the night with a healthy collection of hits from her debut album that proves the singer to be a maturing artist, enriching her original sound with a combination of upbeat and tampered tempos and emotions.  

Songs like “Grace Gold,” “Cages,” “Ride it” and “Low Blows” demonstrated her inventive and more complex musical accompaniments. The drum machine’s percussion and delicate string sounds added jitters to the show without reducing her glorious lead voice.  

Mac then continued to provide a taste of her upcoming projects, with “Something Tells Me” and “Give Me My Name Back.” These new tracks show even more of her evolution as an artist by adding new, synthetic sounds to the mix of symphonies Mac creates, threading the needle of engaging lyrics that attempt to make deeper statements like female empowerment.

While music fans should explore Mac’s Spotify profile, where her records are smooth vocal representations, they in no way do the artist justice. Her the range of notes, depth of her voice and seemingly impossible injection of energy can never be fully appreciated without experiencing her live performances.

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