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Fringe Music

Fringe 2022: Back to Black: The Music of Amy Winehouse Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tribute acts can always be a bit of a risk: no one wants to be forced to sit for an hour in a small venue listening to their favorite artists’ music be butchered by a tacky impersonator. However, in this case, the risk was definitely worth it. The Night Owl’s show Back to Black: Amy Winehouse is a perfect tribute to the jazz and pop legend.

Reine Beau’s rich vocals perfectly captured Amy Winehouse’s distinctive style and voice, embodying the intense emotions that make Amy’s classics so touching. The dynamic energy that Reine brought to the stage, backed by a talented band, really brought Amy’s lyrics alive. Reine was able to truly capture the emotions and depth of Amy Winehouse’s songs, culminating in a powerful performance. It was hard to not feel overwhelmed by the intensity of emotions and lyrics being performed on stage.

Back to Black takes you on a journey through Amy’s life, starting out with a track by Sarah Vaughan, one of Amy Winehouse’s early jazz inspirations, through to the classics such as Rehab, Valerie and Back to Black. Before each song, Reine gives a little bit of context, explaining for example how the Back to Black album was an attempt by Amy to reclaim control of her personal life which had been splashed through the press. These little snippets of Amy’s life story between songs explore the person behind the music and her extraordinary impact on jazz.

Before the final heart wrenching rendition of Love is a Losing Game, Tony Bennett’s voice booms out into the theatre. To add to the already heightened emotions in the room, his gravelly voice reminds one of the huge loss that Amy’s death meant for him and for jazz.

Despite the incredible energy and performance by the band, the venue let the performance down slightly. In a perfect world, the show would have been performed in an intimate dark jazz bar, where you could freely get up to dance and embrace the music. However, the Symposium Hall at The Space stifled the full potential of the show, stripping back the intimate nature of the performance and keeping the audience sat in their seats. The energy from the audience was certainly lacking in contrast to the energy of Reine and the band. However, while the audience and the venue weren’t giving much, the band and Reine still managed to create a vibrant and energetic rendition of Amy Winehouse’s music.  

While nothing would compare to seeing Amy Winehouse alive and performing, Reine Beau’s energy and vocals perfectly embodied the soul and emotion of Amy’s classics. Leaving the venue, we were buzzing on the energy that watching an incredibly moving live music performance leaves you with. I would highly recommend going to watch Back to Black. Reine does an incredible job of bringing Amy’s music alive: with deep soulful vocals, and her animated stage presence, this show is certainly a must watch. 

You can see Back to Black at 17:55 on the 5th to 28th August in theSpace @ Symposium Hall.

Image courtesy of Keisha Frimpong.