Skulking on stage in his skinny jeans, white t-shirt, and fulsome beard, David McAlmont cuts an unprepossessing figure.
At one point he seems to hide behind the piano. The lights are set in a soulless white wash.
But he has more music in his little figure than most people experience in a lifetime, and a voice that transcends any diminutive visuals.
Performing from Billie Holiday’s Carnegie Hall set list, songs like What A Little Moonlight, Don’t Explain, Nobody’s Business and Loverman come alive afresh. McAlmont doesn’t feel the need to insert gimmicks to reinvent these standards, but still makes them distinctly his own.
His five piece band don’t quite match up (though pianist Alex Webb has bursts of flair) but a missed cue aside, that doesn’t overly distract from the main event: McAlmont’s superlative voice.
He closed his encore with Body & Soul, and his voice was charged throughout the gig with an abundance of both. A great start to this year’s festival.