Photo credit: Marek Borys at albaplano.com.
Last Saturday saw Amy Winehouse’s original band take to the Phoenix stage, accompanied by Alba Plano, as part of the Forever Amy tour. The show was sold as a “celebration of the music and live shows of Amy Winehouse”, and I was intrigued to see how it would work. There is a fine line between celebrating the music of an artist and remembering them in a respectful manner at the same time, versus performing a money-grabbing, commercial tribute show.
I am pleased to say that, despite my apprehension, the Forever Amy tour was a heart-warming commemoration of Amy Winehouse and her music. As the band took to the stage there was the feeling that we were about to witness something special, although there was a certain sadness in knowing that this was the moment at which Amy would have appeared before. Footage of Amy’s hometown Camden was played before the music begun, placing Amy once more at the centre of the night.
Alba Plano took to the stage after an instrumental introduction to Tears Dry On Their Own. I really appreciated the fact that she didn’t try and make herself look like Amy, despite the striking similarities between them – had she copied Amy’s eyeliner and hair, the two would have almost been identical. This meant that the night seemed less like a cheesy Amy Winehouse tribute act and more of a celebration of her and her music; the way it should be.
Plano is an incredible vocalist, who genuinely left the audience in shock several times throughout the night. Her vocal range is like no other, and once again the similarities between herself and Amy were shown – it was certainly clear as to why Plano had been chosen to perform vocals. She has a perfect voice for jazz and soul, and I’m sure her solo material is just as impressive as her performance was. Filling Amy Winehouse’s shoes is no easy task, yet one which Plano took in her stride. She performed each song beautifully, and didn’t try too hard to sound exactly like Amy. She implemented her own twist to most of the tracks, holding the notes for a different length of time or adding more vibrato than the originals. She was a pleasure to watch live too, as she confidently interacted with the audience and played up the contradictorily self-assured-yet-vulnerable persona which is necessary when performing an Amy Winehouse track.
Plano made sure to draw attention to the band, too, something most artists often neglect but which was definitely necessary considering they are Amy’s original band. As you would expect, they were all also incredible performers. Their individual instrumentals throughout the night were met with an amazing reaction from the audience – you could tell that everyone in the crowd appreciated the sheer talent stood in front of them. Between every few tracks Plano and the band would leave the stage, and footage of the band members talking about their memories of Amy would play on screen. It was a genuine joy to hear their stories and listen to what they had to say about the most iconic and widely-loved singer of our generation.
My only gripe about the night is that I would have loved to have seen more songs from Back To Black performed. The setlist was very heavily focused on Amy’s older discography, which is equally as impressive but arguably not as iconic as Back To Black. Overall, however, the night was beautifully packaged, and was definitely a must-see for any Winehouse fans.