Bleu, Eddie’s Attic, 3/30/10


BleuIt’s 6:10 p.m., and I’m sitting on the deck at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. I’m waiting for Bleu, and for some reason, I’m nervous.

It’s not like Bleu McAuley is a superstar – the number of fans in Atlanta probably doesn’t top two dozen – but he is part of what I call the Justice League of Power Pop. Along with his friends Mike Viola, Kelly Jones, Steve Eggers and Roger Joseph Manning Jr., he makes music that is so pleasing to the ear, I know that humans have a higher calling.

I have nothing to worry about, though. Bleu arrives, trademark mutton chops in tow, and immediately extends a hand with sincere apologies. He is gracious and talkative, despite the fact that the sound crew is anxious for a sound check. We talk about his collaborations, the state of music today, and his future plans (see my Q&A with him).

Two hours later, Bleu takes the tiny stage by himself, and I realize that we’re in for an acoustic treat. Armed only with a guitar -no microphone in sight – he reduces the crowd to silence with “In Love With My Lover,”  a song from his latest EP. I’m amazed by his ability to make the guitar whisper, making the audience strain to hear each chord while his unamplified voice comes out clear and true. When he begins to wail over the chorus and the guitar grows, you can feel the intensity heighten.

Bleu’s persona is 180 degrees from the affable, humble man I met with earlier. He cracks jokes, makes audience members choose between songs on his set list, and recruits whistlers for one of his songs. “I think I just heard someone say, ‘What the hell is going on here?'” he says between songs.

He asks for a show of hands to see who specifically came to see him; about 20 hands go up. Yep, that’s about right, I think to myself.

His set is disappointingly short – about 45 minutes – because inexplicably, he’s an opening act. He uses drum tracks on my favorite song, the soaring, bittersweet “We’ll Do It All Again,” and background vocals for “No Such Thing As Love,” which add depth to the songs.

But it’s clear that the centerpiece is Bleu, his rich voice and his achingly beautiful music. I feel bad for Evan McHugh, who has to follow him.

After the show, I spot Tim Smith (Jellyfish, Umajets, Sheryl Crow) and former Jellyfish sound guy Shalom Aberle. I suddenly realize that I’m among members of the Justice League, and I’m in awe once again.

All in all, not a bad evening.

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  2. Tracy

    Are you on Lala and if yes what’s your handle? Do you have a best of the decade playlist? I am, conveniently enough, Tracy. I want to follow you (from a polite distance).

    I came across Bleu for the first time today and am completely hooked – I want the power pop Bleu, the ELO Bleu, the heartfelt VH1 ballad Bleu, the Poison Bleu and the Major Labels Bleu. All! His voice is just astounding.

    Tonight I watched Bleu play live at somebody’s house in VT via UStream. Sound and picture were decent and you can’t beat live and free, didn’t even have to find a parking spot!

  3. Andy

    The ustream concert was great. I’m trying to convert the stream to mp3 and post it on my blog.

  4. Evan McHugh

    Bleu posted this article on twitter and I figured I’d see what you thought. You’re right on in your assessment of Bleu’s act and persona. I know you were there to interview him and you have great admiration for the work he does, but did you even see any of Scott Simons, who actually opened the show and was great, or my set afterwards? There’s no need to feel sorry for me. I didn’t HAVE to follow anyone. I GOT to follow him. And he follows me this week in Nashville. But all in all, I’m guess you just have my feelings in mind. Thanks for your sensitivity.

    The Lowly Headliner,

  5. My hmphs

    Evan, I’ve been mulling over your comment, but feel that it deserves a response. I didn’t arrive in time to catch Scott’s set, but I did stay for about 15 minutes of yours. But as you said, I was there to interview Bleu, and I was there to see him perform. That was the focus of my posts. I don’t feel a need to review other acts that appear on the same bill with him.

    That being said, I’m kind of puzzled by your defensive comment. I didn’t criticize you in any way; my only point was that Bleu is a tough act to follow. That’s it.

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