Amy Winehouse, Mr Hudson and the Library
Jac Bond 06/03/2007
On entering the Great Hall on Tuesday Night I observed a somewhat strange atmosphere. Strange in the fact that when I normally go to see a particular gig in a union bar the clientele are usually very similar in dress-sense and attitude, but not that night. An eclectic mix of people ventured out to see BRIT award Best Female Solo Artist Amy Winehouse, ranging from the unsurprising teeny bopper to the more unlikely geography teacher-esque ageing soulster. But even in their outward differences they all had one thing in common - their love for the British soul diva Amy Winehouse.
The stage adorned in vast purple and black velvet-like drapes, and with sweet interval sounds of '60s RnB, Soul and Motown trickling from the speakers it seemed as though we were in for something special. As the crowds slowly gathered to the sell-out event the hall had started to swell. After a short time of people sorting out drinks and spaces to stand the opening act entered the stage, Mr Hudson and The Library. Having heard tracks on commercial radio previous to their support act I was expecting good things from Hudson and co but have to admit I was a little disappointed. Their grace on stage was cool enough but I found that live their music doesn't translate as well as on record, which is always a shame. Musically they are very accomplished but I found instruments like the steel drum that were used overpowered some tracks and made them all too similar for a first time listener. However, the crowd stood in loud admiration for the band when they finished and they did definitely help to get people in the mood for the main act.
In between artists the audience had time to grab another beverage before the Motown revivist, Winehouse entered the venue. Dressed in an outfit not dissimilar to the one worn at the BRITS a couple of weeks ago and sporting the same 'Beehive' hairdo Amy stepped to the mic surrounded by her two male backing vocalists and big brass band. Elegant lampshades and old style microphones also stood on stage alongside her, giving a kind of living room feel to an otherwise drab looking hall. This 'speak-easy' jazz style surrounding set the tone for her soulful ballads like 'Me & Mr. Jones' and 'Tears Dry On Their Own'.
I have to admit although she is an amazing vocal talent the ballads started to get a little sleepy after a while and this she admitted to on stage. So when she pulled the favourites out of the bag from her Back to Black album 'Rehab' and 'You Know I'm No Good' the crowd were now energised as opposed to the slow-paced vibes they previously displayed. Looking around the joy on peoples' faces was glaringly obvious from the rather large smiling tattooed lady stood to the right of me to the merry, and somewhat camp, group of skinheads to the left - very much enjoying her style-defying music, which evidently struck a chord with her audience.
For me the highlight of the evening was in the encore of the show with The Toots and The Maytal's classic 'Monkey Man' and her refreshing take on the Zutons song 'Valerie' (which she has previously sung for BBC Radio 1 Show Live Lounge). Amy gave a performance that her fans were undoubtedly proud of and we were left in a not-so-quiet admiration for the soul singing star.