Monday, January 28, 2019

'Fabulous' Ronnie Spector at The Roundhouse

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes were 'fabulous' when they burst onto the scene with 'Be My Baby' in 1963, according to their first LP, and it's fair to say that Ronnie, along with two young Ronettes, is still fabulous today. Her show at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, just up the road from Camden, last night told her life story with photos, clips from black and white TV shows and her memories, but it was Ronnie's raspy but still very sexy voice that made it such an enjoyable show, although it has to be said that her beehive hair is still in fine shape, and the new Ronettes and an excellent band added to the feeling of exhilaration.
Ronnie, dressed in black and still looking good despite her 75 years, began with her second smash 'Baby I Love You' and then settled onto a stool to begin a series of reminiscences, starting with her first tour of the UK and her travels with the Beatles, Swinging Blue Jeans, Rolling Stones and others. Her second song, 'Because', was a product of those days as it was recorded by the Dave Clark Five and became a big hit in the US for them despite being a mere B side in the UK. Moving on through 'Do I Love You', Ronnie recalled the group's first appearance on the Dick Clark Show and talked about her love of doo wop, especially Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, leading in to 'I Have A Boyfriend', a song originally by the Students. Before they were famous the Ronettes got themselves a a spot at the Peppermint Lounge in New York as dancers and took the opportunity to sing, with 'What'd I Say' featuring from that period.
Next it was 'Walking In The Rain', with the Round House Choir appearing on stage to give added voice, and then 'Don't Worry Baby', a Brian Wilson song which was dedicated to the Ronettes as something of an answer to 'Be My Baby'. Ronnie glossed over her desperate time with husband Phil saying only that it was a difficult seven or eight years. Her next number was 'I'd Much Rather Be With The Girls', a song written for her by Keith Richards but which she didn't record until many years later. She took a short break while the Ronettes did a more than passable version of Sam and Dave's 'I Take What I Want'  before returning for an excellent cover of the Bee Gees' 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart'.
After a brief throwback to last month's Christmas festival with 'Sleigh Ride', Ronnie's next song was a cover of Johnny Thunders' 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory', a poignant song she recorded in 1999. Next came the song that everyone was waiting for - 'Be My Baby' - still as brilliant as ever. And, appropriately as she was in Camden, a tribute to Amy Winehouse, who was herself a fan of Ronnie, with 'Back To Black'. Amy's mum was in the audience apparently. 'I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine' came next and then as an encore it was inevitable that it would be 'I Can Hear Music'.

Ronnie has become a fairly regular visitor to the UK in recent years and this show was quite similar to the one at the Barbican a few years back, But the 'in the round' theatre set up and her new Ronettes made this a show to remember. Fabulous, as ever, and Ronnie you're always welcome in the UK.


At 9:24 pm , Blogger Pete W said...

Nick, the song by the Students did indeed start with the words "I have a girlfriend", but the title was actually "I'm So Young" - the group's other arguable claim to fame being that their song "Every Day of the Week" was ripped off by Kal Mann and Dave Appell for the Dovells' "Bristol Stomp".
Incidentally, I still vividly remember seeing the Ronettes in Jan '64 at the Rex Cinema, Haslemere, Surrey - those sexy slit skirts were enough to drive a callow 16-year old crazy!


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