Sunday, 6 April 2008

Mark Ronson, Hammersmith Apollo

“I’m having the time of my life,” the Grammy, Brit and metallic suit adorned ex-pat exclaims– but let’s face it, the notion of a Mark Ronson live show is a bit dubious. Somewhere between compere and luminary, he opens the show with an instrumental ‘Apply Some Pressure’, the Sloane-infested crowd singing back the chorus but probably not knowing their Maxïmo Park from their Lake District. With some famous friends, a horn section, a more blasé vocal, some polite dancing, a multitude of self-congratulation, a smattering of sterility and a larger portion of affability, it’s just about enough to keep the masses on their tippy toes.

‘Here Comes The Fuzz’ is a pretty good album, and to boot, Ronson is a pertinent foil for Wino. Somehow along the way though, through nobody’s fault, ‘Version’ has become huge and created a platform for Ronson’s protégés to get their stuff out there to the wrong audience. Utilitarian? Well, ish. The two hour showcase features cameos from a fired up Rhymefest, The Pipettes – who look entirely out of place - and The Rumble Strips’ Charlie Waller, who’s in raucous form. Some songs work and others fall completely flat, and it’s strange that this isn’t really Ronson’s doing.

‘Ooh Wee’ is a less derivative and more rhythmic stomper, Candie Payne’s take on Lily Allen’s take on Mark Ronson’s take on Kaiser Chiefs’ take on a dumbed-down-piece-of-anodyne ‘Oh My God’ doesn’t complement her usually sultry tones. Adele’s ‘God Put A Smile Upon My Face’ works more than the watered down, all too laborious ‘Toxic’ as performed by TiggaZ. Daniel Merriweather is soulless and indistinctive on The White Stripes ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, whereas Tahlia is an apt Amy substitute on ‘Valerie’. There’s nothing much to say for Ronson himself – he’s studiously looking down at his pretty guitar, cordially climbing on the speakers and making an appearance for appearance’s sake.

It’s the moments where Ronson takes a step back and lets his guests perform a song of their own that stand out, such as Kenna’s ‘Out Of Control (State of Emotion)’. The song is as much Bright Eyes as it is N.E.R.D., and he completely holds the crowd – definitely one to watch. Another highlight is Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald surfing a crowd wave all the way to the back of the hall in ‘Just’. The most celeb moment of the night is ‘The Only One I Know’, featuring la Burgess himself – but Klaxons’ Jamie Reynolds’ cameo might as well be anonymous, and the whole charade feels too studied to convey any emotion.

The experience is a mixed bag, a unique coming together of artists who have been handed the double-edged sword of exposure and dismissal through association with the big boys, but Mark Ronson should really go back to the day job (or maybe he should become an A&R).

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