I agreed to see Mark Ronson live at the Greenwich Summer Sessions when I actually wanted to see Squeeze. I didn’t know that much about him. Last week turned out to be an interesting time to see him in the end since his ‘genius sister he’d never wanted’ and long-time collaborator, Amy Winehouse, had died just a few days earlier. It changed the entire programme of the gig, but I’m pleased that it never quite resorted to funereal mourning.
I gather that what Mark Ronson is possibly best at is bringing together people. He knows a good selection of people and has a good notion about what to get out of them. As a performer in his own right, I am not so convinced. Granted, his DJ set harking back to his years spent playing in NY clubs was impressive, but some of the less impressive moments came from either his own singing or performances from the band members.
The women who feature in the band, known as The Business International, may appeal to some with their look, but they did not me, particularly when it came to Amanda Warner, one half of the New York based MNDR. Her dress sense, comportment and noticeable lack of talent just plain annoyed me. I think this disappointment lay partly in the fact that the NOISEttes were the support band – this showed up the weakness of the two female vocalists in Ronson’s band and, even more so, it highlighted the enormous charm and wonder of Shingai Shoniwa of the NOISEttes. Beauty, fashion flair and an amazing voice! Not only this but, in Shoniwa’s case, we were clapping voluntarily because we were applauding her and her band (and even her 17-year-old-that-day’s brother, who also had the voice of an angel). Not so with the Business International whose members resorted to shouting and even swearing at us to show a bit harder by clapping or putting our hands in the air that we really were enjoying ourselves.
More guests came and went who I didn’t recognise but was expected to, including rapper Wale, Andrew Wyatt of Swedish band Miike Snow and Alex Greenwald who performed California from the programme the OC. The standout song for me was Ooh Wee, which got me jumping up and which is now a part of my own record collection.
When it came to Amy tributes, we had a few Valeries. First we had an acoustic Valerie from the Zutons singer, and at the end we had another encore of Valerie when the familiar backing singers from Amy’s tours joined the band to dance on stage.
In all, the evening itself was agreeable. The Thames side setting of the Old Royal Naval College was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous and the sound was good. Mark Ronson certainly knows a few people who can play music, and he seemed genuinely pleased to be orchestrating this event himself the day after attending a close and now notorious friend’s funeral. I think most of us were pleased he had come out and performed. My main fault with the whole affair was that if you have to tell me to clap, I really can’t be enjoying myself that much.