Back to Black: The Music of Amy Winehouse is one in a series of productions celebrating the lives and work of talented musicians through the ages. With a voice like brown sugar, Reine Beau Anderson Dudley expertly covers Winehouse’s songs, paying homage to the modern legend and lamenting that she is not remembered as one of the most incredible musicians in history.
To the relief of the audience, there is no big beehive nor any huge winged eyeliner in sight – Anderson Dudley is no Winehouse impersonator. Instead, she brings her own flair to Winehouse’s genius compositions, though perhaps with a nod to her elusive style. Despite a rocky start with some questionable dissonance even for Winehouse’s earlier jazz work, Anderson Dudley and her band soon find their feet and have the audience enthralled as they burst into a heart-pumping rendition the classic ‘Rehab’. Later, there is not a dry eye in the house during the heart-wrenching ‘Love is a Losing Game’.
However, the stunning performance does not go beyond music. Between songs, a presentation plays on a screen behind the band, accompanied by voice clips from various radio reviews of Winehouse’s albums. In a show that claims to explore not only the music but the woman behind it, it is unfortunate that that element is mostly limited to what looks like a secondary school PowerPoint presentation, complete with cheesy transitions and garish colours and fonts. Still, this lack of effort put into what could have been a stunning display is forgotten as soon as Anderson Dudley opens her mouth to perform yet another near-perfectly polished rendition of Winehouse’s songs.
Ultimately, this show is a beautiful tribute to Amy Winehouse’s music. Despite Anderson Dudley’s incredible talent, it is clear that this show is no vanity project; there is true emotion in her voice and a catch in her throat as she briefly discusses what Winehouse’s inspirational and tragic life and death mean to her. It is not easy to impress an audience by covering one of the 21st century’s most unusual voices, but Anderson Dudley and her band are more than up to the task, even if their PowerPoint skills could do with a brush-up.
Back to Black: The Music of Amy Winehouse is on at TheSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
At 19:20 until 24th August
Buy tickets here
Image: Night Owl Shows