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The Syndicate

 Review: Bleu   
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Saturday, September 06 2003 @ 01:30 AM PDT
 Viewed:  1019 times  
MusicBleu (a.k.a. William James McAuley III) is perhaps the most well-known of the artists that I'll be reviewing, and having just talked to the man after his set was over, he's also the one most fresh in my mind.

I actually managed to see him perform on consecutive nights, with each having an entirely different feel. At the Boston Music Awards, he had a whole band and even a choir that, from what I can tell, was an ad hoc assemblage of some of Boston's less well known musicians. There he performed "Get Up", a catchy power pop song that you can't help but smile and get at least a head bob or toe tap going.

He opened the show tonight with the same song, but because he was doing a solo acoustic set, it was a whole different experience. The setting was intimate; there were only about forty people who watched him play at the Paradise Lounge, and, with the exception of a small herd of overly self-important chicklets who were having a loud conversation that could easily have started with, "Oh. My. Gawd.", everybody there was into the performance and he made the most of the setting by asking for, and getting, audience participation on almost every song.

The performance itself was disarming and unaffected (he paused a couple of times to inform us that he had screwed up), giving the feeling that the audience members were his friends that had come to see him at a coffee house (which, given the fact that it wasn't open to the public, so just about everyone in there was in the industry in one way or another, wasn't far from the truth.) His voice is fantastic, and the way that he overlayed guitar tracks to construct each song in parts brought to mind associations with classical guitar pieces, which meshed well with the songs.

The songs themselves ranged the gamut from poppish, to thoughtful and intelligent, to tongue in cheek, to downright creepy. The version he did of the song "Somebody Else" (appeared on the Spiderman soundtrack) was infinitely more plaintive and engaging than the studio version, to the point that I wish somebody had recorded it.

Personally, I probably won't end up buying his latest CD, but that's less because of its own merits than it is a function of my limited budget. I would probably buy an "Unplugged" of him, so long as I could be reasonably sure that it was free from the corporate crapulence and general malaise that goes along with having something to do with MTV.

I would definitely see him again at a club show, especially if it were as intimate as the one tonight.

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