Last night I caught the Amy Winehouse show at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. It was great — I’m still basking in the afterglow. Here’s my rundown of why.
17. Her hair. Seriously, how does she maintain that? She was petting it throughout the show, like it was a small creature. It very well might be.
16. The Dap Kings. They usually perform with Sharon Jones, but they fit perfectly into the Winehouse groove. My girlfriend couldn’t get over the growl of the baritone sax.
15. She doesn’t even need rehab, no, no, no. The rumors of her impending demise are greatly exaggerated. She looked fine to me.
14. The backup singers. Two cute suited men doing choreography and hand moves worthy of the Platters or the Five Stairsteps. Swoon!
13. Her tattoos. They seem so haphazard, which only makes them cooler.
12. The way she rolled her eyes when the crowd expressed disappointment as she announced the last song. "Oh, you know we’ll be back. You’ve been to a few concerts, I’ve done a few concerts. Come on."
11. Her hair. It could really be 17 reasons all on its own. At one point she even said, "Don’t touch my hair," like she knew we all wanted to.
10. The way the band members couldn’t take their eyes off her — because whatever It is, she’s got It. And then some.
9. The loneliness in her Cleopatra-fied eyes. Maybe that’s why she won’t go to rehab; she needs to maintain that ache. Just like David Lynch refuses to get therapy because he fears it will change his creative process. Only less pretentious.
8. The high percentage of lesbians in the crowd. We’re here; we love the Winehouse; get used to it!
7. Songs that sound even better than the studio versions. How many artists sound as good live as they do on recordings — let alone better?
6. The way people cheered every time she took a drink. Maybe that was kind of lame, actually. But it felt like a collective interpretation of “Rehab,” and I like to think it just meant everyone was there for her, in whatever shape she wanted to be in.
5. Her hair. I’m sorry; I can’t get over it!
4. Her childlike delight when she saw someone she knew in the crowd. It was just sweet.
3. She’s not a diva yet. She seems to just want to make music, to be heard. There’s very little “look at me” going on, despite the hair and the tattoos.
2. Her accent. Sounded like North London to me, and it also sounded like “the common people,” in the best sense of the word. “You know wot I mean?"
1. She’s channeling something. You can see her there, white and tiny and kind of off-kilter, but the sound that reaches your ears might as well be Etta James or Aretha Franklin. Throw in dashes of Janis Joplin and Judy Garland and a supernatural understanding of soul, and it’s almost scary. And sublime.
Winehouse’s tour continues, though you might have to pay dearly for tickets. For me, it was well worth the $150, and judging by the enchanted faces around me last night, I think most concertgoers would happily drop even more for the experience. They just don’t make ‘em — songs or singers — like that anymore.
She will also perform at the MTV Movie Awards in June. Amy Winehouse and Sarah Silverman in the same room? That’s too much edgy genius for four walls to contain!