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Concert Review: Amy Winehouse – Glastonbury 2008

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What had seemed unthinkable a month ago has happened: Amy Winehouse managed to turn up and perform at two separate functions.

Earlier in the week she serenaded Nelson Mandela at his 90th Birthday Concert, and last night I caught her set at Glastonbury. Although she had four cocktail umbrellas in her hair she couldn’t have been drunk: her beehive looked so top-heavy that in those four-inch heels she would have been flat on her face quicker than a punter diving into a formerly unspoiled pool of Glastonbury mud.

Another factor that repudiated any chance of her being tipsy was that she remembered the names of her accompanying jazz band, backing singers and dancers; and gave each of them a chance to show off their formidable talent and range.

She also remembered the words to the songs, sometimes throwing in the occasional ad-lib. In an hour’s performance she got through twelve songs; including well-known crowd-pleasers like “Back To Black” and “You Know I’m No Good”, and lesser-known works like “Cupid” and “Hey Little Rich Girl”.

Given recent events in Amy’s life there was something almost heroic about her diminutive frame tottering and dancing about the stage; belting out her songs in her wonderfully soulful, sultry, powerful voice while making it look effortless; adjusting and cracking jokes about her tiny, blue-sequinned dress; and yes, having the occasional little drink.

The crowd was jubilant when she got down from the stage and performed “Me and Mr. Jones” within touching distance of the front row; indeed she even clasped hands with a few people. Amusingly, the security guards had trouble keeping up with her at times as she skipped along in front of the ranks of fans, who were delighted to be so close to her.

At the final note of “Rehab” she cast a cheeky, almost defiant smile at the camera, and Glastonbury erupted. Hopefully the success of her routines over the past week will encourage her to do more. Her husband is due to be released from prison in two weeks, so she informed the crowd. Whether that will help or hinder her remains to be seen.

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  • Keef

    I wonder, was this reviewer even AT Glastonbury??

    Amy Winehouse mumbled and slurred her way through the entire set, Rehab was perhaps the worst, barely untillegible, shameful. I have been a fan of hers for a while and was looking forward to finally seeing her live. All i can say is im am so dissapointed words almost fail me.

    p.s. If you are going to do a review of a gig, try make sure you actually watch it ;)

  • km

    Thank you Ms. Tuckwell for delivering the classiest most unbiased review of Amy’s set. While other reporters find the smallest detail to pull out and magnify, your review was objective and complete. Mrs. Winehouse did a spectacular job against all odds and should be commended for her talent and tenacity. Thank you.

  • JF

    Huh! Was I listening to another concert? Amy herself was abysmal- I felt really sorry for her backing band who were (in contrast) absolutely wonderful. The band were incredibly professional in the face of adversity and full of energy and seemed to nurse her through the performance.

    Take them away and the whole thing would have died in a blur of incoherent waffle and bum notes (though very occasionally it was good- she has a lot of talent there’s no doubt).

    If you think what she did was OK, then try turning up at the office in that state and see what happens!

  • Joe

    What was the reviewer watching, she was completely out of it.. Slurring everywhere.

    I hate the fact we try and give ‘the kids’ anti drug messages, and at the same time put this junkie up on a stage and bow to her greatness. Its a shame.

  • Katiomau

    I agree with Keef and JF – Winehouse was the worse concert I saw there, and she doesn’t deserve being up in the pedestal she has been put in, since she has nothing but contempt towards her fans.

    You say she allowed the band to show their full range – she was killing time, while jumping up and down the stage laughing at us, the idiots who cheered her as she throws her talent down the trash bin. During that incoherent set of “talent shown” she mumbled something along the lines of “make time amy, make some time”; she did not care for being there.

    As for when she went down, she was waiting for someone to do the least of things so as to give him/her a good punch and get some more tabloid attention.

    I used to love her, but I found myself booing and embarrassed for her. Amy Winehouse might have talent, but she doesn’t deserve any kind of adoration.

  • http://paulcantplaypiano.blogspot.com Chris “UZ” White

    Jesus, was everyone on Blogcritics there but me?

  • simon gardener

    This review has obviously been written by a real fan, and lets remember that fan is an abbreviation for fanatic. It bears no resemblance to the train-wreck of a gig that I witnessed.

    To say Amy’s performance was a disappointment would be wrong as we expected nothing more . I truly hoped she’d have it together and put in a great show but hadn’t expected her to. Sadly i wasn’t proved wrong.

    The woman embarrassed herself in front of a massive audience and presumably will find it hard to find a promoter willing to risk putting her on a stage in the near future.

    Lets take the review to pieces bit by bit.

    “Although she had four cocktail umbrellas in her hair she couldn’t have been drunk: her beehive looked so top-heavy that in those four-inch heels she would have been flat on her face quicker than a punter diving into a formerly unspoiled pool of Glastonbury mud.”

    Amy could barely stand up straight. If it was just those heels then that implies a monstrous lack of judgement – who would go out to perform in front of an audience of any size unable to stand up because of their choice of footwear ? Amy reeled around the stage bumping into bits of the stage set behind her and falling back onto it.

    “Another factor that repudiated any chance of her being tipsy was that she remembered the names of her accompanying jazz band, backing singers and dancers; and gave each of them a chance to show off their formidable talent and range.

    Most “tipsy people” can remember the names of the people they work with regularly – do you imagine she’d only recently met these people instead of having worked and rehearsed with them over an extended period of time. As for “gave them a chance to show off their formidable talents” it was more like gave herself time to grab hold of some part of the stage and take another drink.

    “She also remembered the words to the songs”

    As did many of the tipsy teenage girls in the audience. Fancy that – a performer who knows there own material ? What an achievement! How low are our expectations here?”

    “there was something almost heroic about her diminutive frame tottering and dancing about the stage; belting out her songs in her wonderfully soulful, sultry, powerful voice while making it look effortless; adjusting and cracking jokes about her tiny, blue-sequinned dress; and yes, having the occasional little drink.”

    for “heroic” read “pathetic”. “tottering” read “staggering and veering”. “belting out” – occasionally, but usually slurring or mumbling . Amy’s vocal performance varied dramatically line by line.

    ” The crowd was jubilant when she got down from the stage and performed “Me and Mr. Jones” within touching distance of the front row; indeed she even clasped hands with a few people.”

    Most people around me were wondering what on earth she was doing and were quite horrified when she lashed out and punched one fan twice who dared to touch her outstretched hand. That bit made it on the big screen – which is the only way most people could catch a glimpse of the misguided singer during the last 2 songs as she stumbled around amongst the security guards.

    “At the final note of “Rehab” she cast a cheeky, almost defiant smile at the camera, and Glastonbury erupted.”

    Yes, a portion of of Glastonbury did erupt, a small portion – the few near me who found Amy and her behaviour endearing were mostly female, mostly teenagers and mostly tipsy. Most of the crowd around me kept giving each other looks of disbelief.

    I’m glad the reviewer enjoyed the show, however, Amy did a great disservice to her band, the majority of her audience and to herself.

    On cd the woman is excellent – at glastonbury she was appalling.

  • Catherine

    I was not at Glastonbury, I watched her set on TV, that’s how I knew she glanced at the camera.
    I am not an Amy fanatic. I like her voice and a couple of her songs, that’s all.
    Some of the lyrics were hard to pick up, but I’ve been to gigs for other bands which were far worse, and where I could not pick up even a single word.

  • David B

    Its a shame when there are so many talented people in this world that never get the recognition they deserve, and this talentless drunk,drug addict is put on a pedestal and told she is a superstar, her Glastonbury performance was abysmal, would any parent want her as a role model for their children? I very much doubt it. The sooner she disappears into obscurity the better,for all of us, mind you she will probably overdose when her druggy hubby comes out and wants to celebrate.

  • Steve M

    Yeah, I agree. Natural talent but flushing it all down the toilet. She behaved like a mess during that gig, and she asked to headline next year!! can you imagine. Perhaps the Verve could headline next year? they were total pros

  • William Burgess

    I searched google to see what people thought of the Glasto concert and was amazingly surprised to see this!

    It was unprofessional, out of tune, poor diction, no stage presence and extremely embarrassing to witness. I thought maybe, just maybe, her recent diagnosis would calm her habits, but Amy’s performance just reinforced what we all know.

    Amazing talent gone to waste, shame.

  • arnie

    Obviously not the same concert i saw on the BBC. Amy was not only drunk. She was incoherant inbetween songs. She mumbled and slurred her way through “a message to you rudy” forgetting the lyrics and then had the nerve to bemoan the crown for not dancing. She had to be caught by security when she nearly fell off the platform next to the railings.
    Absolute train wreck of a performance. Please don’t pay to see her or buy her records till she sorts herself out

  • GlastoMan

    I was there both last year and this… which I doubt the reviewer was. I would not be surprised if the media feeds missed much of the singers antics and expletives. It was by far the most dire performance of more than two dozen I saw over the four days (yes there are bands on Thursday) and the most embarrassing too. The entertainment value, if it can be called that, was in guessing what she would do next. Her excellent band, manfully, tried to cover for her with an extended band introduction half way through, that filled much of the set. Yes she is an amazing talent and she can deliver, as she proved last year but it would be reasonable to conclude there are far more important things for her to deal with just now. Anyone who think that her performance measured up to what was required must have been listening to a different performance to that which I attended. Had I paid just to see her I, and I suspect many others, would have demanded our money back.

  • Jacinta S

    I agree totally with Keef – what planet was this writer on, when he say Winehouse’s performance. Im sorry but managing to sing all 12 songs successfully merely indicates that Winehouse has memorized these songs probably through singing them so many times. SHE WAS BLIND! I am serious, she was stumbling, wobbling and it looked like her band members where constantly reminding HER of what to sing….. no sympathy for this appalling artist. She should have stayed sober and become a truly brilliant and consistent star.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The sooner she disappears into obscurity the better,for all of us…

    Huh?

  • michael byrne

    Yes, I saw the concert on tv, too and it was obvious (I had an alcoholic mother) that she was more than tipsy. Fine, if she could sing well, drunk I wouldn’t mind but she seemed rather pathetic, aggressive and ultimately contemptuous of her audience. I was disappointed that this aspect of her performance or lack of it was totally missing from the: ‘cool, yeah, I’m like a dj on radio one, and I’m so hip with everything and know all the names of the bands, like without even learning them’ assessment on BBC2 with that Mark man and that, ‘I think I’m still hot’ woman.

  • Fluffs

    Are you sure you was listening to same Amy as me,, she was pissed or cracked up, she was awful, a pitiful shadow of her former self,,I just hope she don’t die soon and get legend status as she was clearly out of her head on something and inst not a legend. Would be good to see her get together with Peter Dougherty so the can both wallow in some grief hole somewhere and be forgotten.

  • Wes

    I watched the concert on TV. I thought she started the set ok – altho i have seen her perform better. She seemed to get worse as the concert went on – they’re must have been some strong stuff in them pink drinks she was sipping. Rehab was just a joke – she sounded like a bad kareoke singer.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I saw her tonight on VH1 Classic for the Mandela tribute show (the “other” recent show she did), and she looked and sounded great to me. She did flub one line during the big complete cast number at the end with Queen, Paul Rodgers and the cast of thousands…

    Other than that I thought she did fine though. Paul Rodgers also surprised me with how well he handled the Queen material.

    -Glen

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/eric_whelchel Eric Whelchel

    leaving aside the dicey part that this is a concert review based on a TV broadcast… reports are saying (and the TV broadcast confirms) that Winehouse got thuggy and threw fists at some dude. Not sure why such a unique detail wasn’t included here.

  • Jim

    What a cringe-worthy performance it was. Even more cringe-worthy is the inevitable, back-slapping journalism that seems to be following. As I watched The Winehouse stumble about on Saturday night, slur her words and basically take the piss, I could just hear all the usual ‘performance of her career’, ‘world-class’, ‘legendary’ cliches that I would be hearing over the next few days.
    Undoubtedly, she has talent and she is wasting it. We are wasting her by talking garbage and placing her on this kind of unworthy pedestal. I’d like to think that her best is yet to come. She’ll sort herself out and make many fantastic albums and give truly, incredible performances. Glasto 2008 was not one of them. It was like watching a troubled Auntie do karaoke at a 2nd rate wedding – I was just waiting for something earth-shatteringly embarrassing to happen and then I realised – the whole gig was earth-shatteringly embarrassing.
    Her backing band – god love ‘em – were truly professional and did a great job. What a waste of their talents also.

  • Kucci

    Hurrah! At last people are coming off the fence and telling it how it is. Amy needs a good kick up the backside – all this (previous) brown nosing is doing is sending her to her grave.

  • Lisa

    I was there, and it was absolutely appaling. She was mumbling all the time, and I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying, everyone around me shared the same feeling. I was 3 rows from the stage, and I’m not even a fan, I was surrounded by real fans, that were taken by shock. The only things that kept me there, where her 2 male singer/dancers which were great, and the curiosity of what else is gonna happen. She punched a fan! It was shown on the big screen, but the camera was quick enough to cut it out, not everyone seemed to notice, people were still sticking their own arms in front of her, maybe they also wanted a punch?

  • GlastoMan

    As I recall the big screen footage of the ‘incident’ showed a different, clearer, angle than the BBC footage and others now released, much of which is hidden by a security guards. I do wonder what has happened to that footage?

    Many so called or self proclaimed music experts/authorities seam to think they can fool everyone to believing what they saw was a quality performance. I can understand Glastonbury officials have to be diplomatic and guarded in their response for obvious reasons. The reviews by some music journalists perhaps owed more to the cider in the hospitality tent and the desire for another free journalist ticket next year than to an insightful and accurate report on a performance which said more about AWs personal issues than it did her musical talents.

  • Taylor

    I was there – it was dire. A train crash of a performance is an understatement. This was an ELI – an Extinction Level Event: a meteor impact of catastrophic proportions! She should be ashamed of herself. Her parents must be mortified to see their daughter up there like this. PS – I saw Pete on the Park Stage on Fri night and for once (I have seen BShambles 6/7 times and they were almost always dire) he gave an almost note perfect word perfect set. It was trully special. Amy sort yourself out. Pete keep yourself that way. My hightlights of the fest though? Last Shadows, MGMT and the Verve. The Wigan lads blew a knackered and tired and drained public into shock they were that good. An example of true proefessionalism. Amy – take note from Richard Ashcroft – unless your on the other side of the stage watching the festival, “…the drugs don’t work..”

  • reggie

    her performance was shambolic and excruciating to watch….

  • Fred Phoesh

    Amy has become a boring cliche. She seems to think stumbling around like an idiot, singing off key is cool, erm, I think not.

    Her band was fantastic, but she was awful. Her “i am so weird, gee, look at me” first year art school mentality is a complete wank and she has become boring and predictable.

    You aint no billy holiday girl, so go away to rehab and clean yourself up and cut the pretentious posing as an artist on the edge.

    Really.

  • Kaiman

    I was at the Glastonbuey debarcle and left thinking it was very sad and a huge disappointment. A part of me thought I was missing something and expected everyone to be singing her praises afterwards, but they werent. We have probably seen the best of Amy, long before this. She will, as I am sure she would want, be put on the same shelf as Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday. Her voice has gone, the rest of her will follow. Lets enjoy what she was, not what she has turned into.

  • Emjay

    Man she enjoyed herself, and that’s about all that matters. I was there and I couldn’t care less about the state she was in. If I could have foreseen the concert as it was, I would most probably still pay to see it.