Sunday, November 25, 2007

UKGigs - Amy Winehouse stuns audiences

Keeping her audience waiting for an hour is becoming commonplace for the diminutive soul singer and at Hammersmith Apollo in London, there was little surprise. What was surprising was that there was no apology from the organisers or the singer herself. The audience were getting restless and started booing each time an unrelated song was played on the PA system. It's a good way to lose your audience's interest.

Miss Winehouse's reputation precedes her and I had read some of the articles with a degree of mistrust. Surely the press were wrong ? None other than Andrew Lloyd Webber had come to her defense on TV by saying she was one of the top UK talents of our times, so perhaps the press are being unfair ?

Well, I think her reputation appears to be close to the reality. A great voice but wasted in a woman who was irritable, distracted, emotionless and barely able to stand at times. She strolled on stage after her backing singer had announced her, and walked straight to the microphone, fixed her bee-hive hair, fiddled with her boobs, the strap on her shoulder and pulled down at the bottom of each side of the tiny bit of cloth she was wearing. She left her hands to attention, moved towards the mike and let escape some magnificent sounds. Where did that come from ? She barely looked able to string two words together, far less generate such a rich sound.

She continued with each song from her repertoire in much the same way and while the audience were watching and listening intently, there was no emotional connection. I looked around at the audience several times and found them mesmerised. If you had waved a hand in front of their face they would've continued their gaze towards the stage. I was much the same. I wanted to know how it was being done. Looking for the strings which held her together.

She wandered off stage at the end of every other song leaving her band to get on with introducing themselves, or starting the next number. Her lead backing singer kept the others informed and helped to avoid any confusion. They seemed to take it all in their stride and professionally delivered some great music.

Her quirky dance moves were delivered perfectly in time with her backing singers when the moment came. Much to my surprise. She also didn't seem to be miming but there was little or no effort in the giant sounds she was making. Watching closely, I determined that there was no way she was playing her guitar. No sound emanated from the simple plucking she was doing and I think there was some clever sound engineering going on. Much like the click-track used in some theatre performances to underpin vocals. It was especially noticeable when she sang her signature tune in the encore, by which time she had lost it totally.

Having said all that, the style of her movements and sound she was creating reminded me of early Diana Ross, you know, the black and white TV footage you've seen where she moves awkwardly and in a shy retiring way which was both sweet and amusing. Was this part of the creation or was it simply a reality due to late night partying ? Such is the enigma that is Amy Winehouse.

I do hope her family and new tour management help her make the right choices to come out of this dangerous phase she is in. She could really make a significant difference to the UK music industry, if she was more aware of being part of it. Instead of saying "No, No, NO !", as the song goes, I think she should really go to the place "they" are trying to make her go to.

Amy Winehouse should be continuing her tour in Brighton, Bournemouth, Brixton, Cardiff, Manchester and Dublin.

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