Any one who attends the early evening performance of Back To Black: The Music Of Amy Winehouse this week and is then planning on seeing other shows later in that same evening better be prepared for those other shows to disappoint no matter how good they are. This show is an absolute stunner!
Singer, Reine Beau Anderson Dudley is a star.
Her interpretations of the late soul queen’s canon of songs are superb, especially in the way she channels Winehouse’s passion, power and individual vocal mannerisms so authentically and believably.
There are no half measures offered here – no pandering to the casual Fringe-goer with the usual lame-ass concessions to cheesy cabaret-style stage behaviour. Dudley offers up a fully committed and totally involved vocal performance, and she is backed admirably by the Night Owl Show Band, perhaps the hardest working musical collective at this Fringe.
Most often, Night Owl’s shows provide documentary footage and performer commentary about the performer to whom they are paying tribute. In this show, however, Dudley wisely spends little time on rehashing details of the tragic, well-documented life of Winehouse, preferring her delivery of the songs to stand as testimony to the talent of this much-missed British star.
Dudley, who has already performed her tribute to The Carpenters earlier in this Fringe festival, where she showed her versatility in delivering another amazing vocal performance as she worked through the gently crafted catalogue of that most famous soft-rock duo.
For this show, the necessary restraint that was needed for those Carpenters’ songs is summarily tossed aside and this astonishingly talented singer invests every ounce of energy into her delivery and performance here, working herself into a righteous sweat as she gives the audience her all.
The set delivers a good balance of songs from across Winehouse’s sadly limited discography. Songs performed from the more jazz-inflected album, Frank, included an impassioned What Is It About Men, and a terrific rendition of Take The Box.
Understandably, there were quite a few songs from the mega-successful Back To Black record, from which this show takes its name. The crowd were hooting and cheering as Dudley got her full Winehouse on as she delivered note perfect versions of all the hits, including Rehab, Back To Black and Me & Mr Jones.
Winehouse’s posthumous song collection, Lioness, was not overlooked either, and Our Day Will Come was imbued with the necessarily sad irony of its central sentiment.
Valerie, the penultimate song in the show, incited the crowd to sing along lustily and loudly which primed them perfectly for a powerhouse run through of Monkey Man, the Toots & The Maytals song that Winehouse used to cover so often in her concerts.
This show is fairly short, at only fifty minutes, but every one of those minutes is a total joy.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 5 stars
Back To Black: The Music Of Amy Winehouse is being performed at The Empire Theatre, Gluttony from Saturday 7 March to Sunday 15 March.
All performances begin at 6:10pm
Tickets are available here: Back To Black