Mike Atkinson

Amy Winehouse / Mr Hudson & The Library – Nottingham Rock City, Monday March 5

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Rock City by Mike A on March 9, 2007

It’s always good to see a support act find the right audience, and Mr Hudson & The Library were ideally suited to Amy Winehouse’s good-natured, receptive crowd. Their prime asset was pianist Torville Jones, whose alternately rippling and pounding flurries sat well with the band’s melodic, likeable pop-rock. Funky hip-hop drumming and steel-pan percussion were blended with blokey, conversational “awright geezah” vocals, and distinct echoes of Joe Jackson at his peak.

Amy Winehouse cut a surprisingly petite figure on stage. Dressed in a tiny pink crop-top, her size-zero frame topped by that extraordinary, gravity-defying beehive hairdo, she delivered a controlled, assured performance, with none of the unhinged excesses that you might have expected from recent press reports. Her razor-sharp tongue was only unleashed once, in response to an over-excited woman at the front who screamed “I want your babies!”

“You want my babies?” she retorted, coolly arching an eyebrow. “Who let Madonna in?”

Backed by an eight-piece band, immaculate in sharp black suits and skinny ties, Amy’s show was equal parts supper-club cabaret and Stax soul revue. As such, it seamlessly combined the jazzier material from her debut album and the sharper girl-group stylings from the chart-topping Back To Black, beefing up the former and smoothing the edges off the latter. The vocal performance was sublime: languid and flirty, smooth and dirty, and perfectly pitched for the material.

The set climaxed with Back To Black’s opening three numbers, played in reverse order: Me And Mr Jones, a truly stunning You Know I’m No Good, and the inevitable Rehab. For the encore, the 2-Tone revivalist knees-up of Monkey Man (Toots & The Maytals/The Specials) was followed by a splendidly sassy reworking of The Zutons’ Valerie.

Rock City was lucky indeed to catch this rising star in such an appropriately intimate setting.

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