It almost felt like there were four shows going on last night at the sold-out Amy Winehouse concert at The Mod Club.
The first of which, chronologically speaking, was the fabulous Patrick Wolf, who kicked off the evening. Wolf skipped, stomped, and strutted his stuff around stage in a way that would make Mick Jagger proud. Decked out in sequined suspenders and a plaid bolo tie, he performed songs such as “Overture” and the fun ditty “Accident and Emergency” with such power and sheer talent that the crowd could almost forget he was an opening act.
The remaining three shows started simultaneously, forty-five minutes after Wolf left the stage. Sure, they were all part of the same concert, but they could have been their own separate show entirely. The most fun was, of course, Winehouse herself. She poured herself onto the stage in the drunken manner that one expects from the tiny songstress. Despite her obvious inebriation, she effortlessly and flawlessly belted out her songs with such power and passion that it’s just damned impressive that she’s downing drinks during instrumental breaks. Between songs, Winehouse chatted with the crowd, sometimes forgetting her train of thought in the middle of a sentence and staring off into the distance, but mostly just making comical rant-like statements and threatening the audience in a cheeky way. At one point she called someone a “fucking cunt” and then apologized to her father who was somewhere in the audience, having been flown in to see her perform in Toronto. At another point she was given her favourite drink from an audience member, a “Rickstasy,” named after her friend Rick, which contains three parts vodka, one part Southern Comfort, one part banana liqueur and one part Bailey’s. “This…this is just fucking impressive,” said Winehouse, taking a sip. “Mm, it’s almost there, but you know the first time you make a Rickstasy it’s never right.” The audience exploded with cheers, and the next song began.
A look to Winehouse’s left would reveal another entertaining performance: her backup singers. These two handsome men in suits towered over Winehouse, but their voices were a perfect accompaniment. When they weren’t singing in perfect unison they were twirling, flailing, and dancing in unison, providing something to look at when Winehouse’s swaggering just wasn’t enough.
Behind the dancers was the eight-piece backup band, The Dap-Kings. They are normally the backup band for funk and soul powerhouse Sharon Jones, but were brought in by producer Mark Ronson to complete Winehouse’s soulful, Motown feel. With a trumpet, two saxophones, guitars and a drum kit, at some times they were in danger of outshining Winehouse. At the end of her song “He Can Only Hold Her” they broke into a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “(Doo-Wop) That Thing” with the backup singers on the lead vocals, while Amy sat on stage and took more sips of her Jack and Coke.
All in all, the show was a fantastic feast for the eyes and ears. Winehouse lived up to her hype of being a drunken mess, so her sloppiness between songs was expected. Thankfully, she also lived up to her hype of delivering a powerful performance, and in doing so impressed her audience.
Photo by Carrie Musgrave.