FOREVER AMY – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 18.12.19
I wonder how many people realised the significance of the venue chosen for tonight’s tribute to the late, legendary Amy Winehouse?
For it was thirteen years and three months ago that Amy herself performed here at the Concorde 2 on September 11th 2006 to a sold-out crowd (some low-quality footage of that gig be found HERE). Also of note are the two tracks ‘Take The Box’ and ‘In My Bed’ which were recorded upon this very stage and released on Amy’s deluxe edition of her 2003 ‘Frank’ album.
She made a triumphant return to the city at the Brighton Centre on 26th November 2007 in what was to be her final performance in Brighton. Here’s a clip of her performance – click HERE.
Sadly Amy passed away aged 27 on 23rd July 2011 from alcohol poisoning following a well documented battle with drink and drugs. In the process, she unwittingly joined the infamous ‘27 Club‘ of fabled musicians such as Jimmy Hendrix, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin et al who had lost their lives at this tragically young age.
Fast forward to Christmas 2019, and ‘Forever Amy‘ are in town for their only UK date, a bit of a coup for local promoters Black Rabbit Promotions. This was, in fact, the opening night of an extensive European tour (with the other dates all scheduled in 2020). ‘Forever Amy’ are no run-of-the-mill tribute act, this is Amy’s original backing band who all toured with her, with one important addition, singer Alba Plano, a Jazz singer/songwriter of Sicilian descent based in London.
The band line-up this evening was Dale Davis on bass who was Amy’s Music Director and long-term friend, Richard Cardwell Amy’s keyboardist, Hawie Gondwe her guitarist, Nathan Allen Amy’s drummer, Ben Edwards on trumpet and Jim Hunt on saxophone, who masterminded Amy’s horn section which was a distinctive part of her unique sound.
In addition, all have worked with, and continue to work with some of the biggest names in the music business, so everything was set up for a terrific night.
Tonight’s show was billed as a celebration of Amy’s music and that is exactly what we got, a re-imagining of her self-written songs whilst still retaining all of their distinctive sound.
Alba reminded us a couple of times that she isn’t Amy, nor did she pretend to be. Her voice is smoky, soulful and deep, with a unique texture. Not only is Alba an able replacement, she is a phenomenal talent in her own right with an incredible vocal range, who delivered her own personal interpretation of Amy’s back catalogue this evening whilst letting her own on-stage charisma shine through.
The set itself comprised of many of the classics from the two brilliant albums ‘Frank’ with its jazz and hip-hop influences and multi-Grammy winning ‘Back To Black’ with it’s classic retro sound inspired by girl groups of the 60’s. Also included was a superb cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’ in which Alba orchestrated the audience to deliver their part in perfect harmony and a delightful rendition of The Shirelles 1960 classic ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’.
In all, it was a cracking night, enthusiastically enjoyed by an appreciative audience. Before he left the stage, Dale paid a warm tribute to Amy. Her spirit and timeless music lives on – with a new twist.
‘Tears Dry’, ‘Mr Magic’, ‘Cherry’, ‘Stronger Than Me’, ‘F*ck Me Pumps’, ‘Moody’s Mood’, ‘Love Is Blind’, ‘Addicted’, ‘Cupid’ (Sam Cooke cover), ‘Love Is A Losing Game’, ‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’, ‘Back To Black’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’, ‘Rehab’, ‘Mr And Mr Jones’, ‘You’re Wondering Now’, ‘Monkey Man’ (encore) ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ (The Shirelles cover), ‘Valerie’.
A word for the support act. No support was officially billed, but a chap called O’Malley (so I’m told) stepped up and sang a virtuoso 30 minute set of original songs with just a stool, acoustic guitar and foot percussion. He had a fabulous voice and real stage presence. I’m told he was promptly signed up by ‘Forever Amy’ as support for the rest of the tour so I’m sure we’ll be finding out more about him and his music soon.
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