Æ Mak at the Grand Social on 8 March 2019

Pop pluralist Æ Mak invited us to dance our faces off for International Women’s Day. Naturally we were much obliged.

After support from Hunting Hall, The Grand Social is filled with an audience abuzz with anticipation as a previous Plec Pick take to the stage for their first headline show in two years.

Opening with I Walk, it’s fascinating to see how Æ Mak operates since the departure of founding member Ellie McMahon. Now, sole frontwoman Aoife McCann holds more than her own, flanked by her backing band of Daniel McIntyre (synth and xylophone), Dylan Povey and Peter Kelly (drums and percussion).

With minimal stage setup McCann’s whole body is integral to the show visuals. Commanding the stage for numbers like Love Flush and We Have It Right Here, her movements resemble a possessed marionette wrapped around a syncopated rhythm.

Not wanting to ruin the facade by talking, she barely breaks character, not even to introduce the next song. An introduction isn’t necessary, however. A once-off falter (not for lack of vocal range) during the chorus of Too Sad To Sing and the crowd carries it instead. 

At times her perfectionism is obvious. One glaring example is when she grinds the performance to a halt calling “let’s start again!” as one song started early throwing her choreography off kilter.

It is this perfectionism that makes for such a captivating set. All eyes are on McCann as she brings the show to a euphoric end with Glow, before jumping off stage into the arms of her friends.

It feels like the very walls of the Grand Social are once again bearing witness to something special.