Amy Winehouse * * * *
at The Medicine Bar
Review by David Faers
The smile that crept on the face of new-wave diva Amy Winehouse said it all. Here was a woman at the top of her game, basking in the loud and enthusiastic applause that greeted her latest slice of retro jazz-soul.
Nicely warmed up by a set at the Birmingham Academy the previous night, the Brit award-winning singer seemed strangely unsure of herself when she first emerged from the side-stage shadows at the Custard Factory’s cosy Medicine Bar.
But within a song or two of what turned out to be a spine-tingling set, she was in her stride – and loving every minute of it.
Which is why she couldn’t resist letting a generous smile or two slip on that big-featured face that has helped to capture the hearts – and other parts – of fans. In the hands of a lesser talent, her Motown-meets-lounge-lizard sound wouldn’t work half so well and, in the intimate surroundings of the Medicine Bar, the depth, warmth and confidence of her voice was even more obvious.
The biggest response at this free invite-only show was reserved for the anthemic hit Rehab and title track from her gazillion-selling CD Back to Black. In fact the majority of this knockout set was drawn from that CD – a notable exception being a well-received reworking of The Zutons' Valerie. On the evidence of this showing, the gal with the rat’s nest hairdo and a penchant for time-warped trailer trash chic thoroughly deserves her moment in the sun.
God knows what it cost fragrance firm Hugo to fund her Custard Factory outing – but whatever the amount it was worth every penny.