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Review

Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes - Old Fruitmarket - 23/01/19


"The legendary Ronnie Spector graces Glasgow with an appearance as part of Celtic Connections festival."

 

Review by Graham McCusker
Posted on 2019-01-24 16:25:42
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Celtic Connections is renowned for bringing genuine legends to Glasgow, and in Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes, they don’t get much more legendary. Leading the way since the mid-60s with a string of massive hits including ‘Be My Baby’, which was named by Billboard as the number one greatest girl group song of all time. On the 55th anniversary of The Ronettes’ debut UK tour, tonight’s show is one of the standouts on this year’s festival lineup.

As the sharply-dressed band enter onstage to the ode to her hometown ‘Spanish Harlem’, Spector soon follows and launches straight into ‘Baby, I Love You’. The show marries Spector telling stories from her vast career, video clips of the Ronettes in their heyday, and a setlist full of timeless classics. There is no stone left unturned as the New Yorker rattles through the hits including an excellent ‘Walking In The Rain’ and a thundering version of Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say’.

She may be 75, but Spector is still a tour-de-force who commands a stage by simply being on it. The most important thing though, is that her voice still holds up. It may sound a little world-weary from a lifetime of constant usage, and the higher notes may be just out of reach, but it remains unmistakeable. She hollers the doo-wop favourite ‘So Young’ with the same vigour as the original recording in 1964, and on the tender ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart’, sang as a tribute to her sister Estelle, Spector delivers a goosebump-inducing vocal performance.

Ending the main set with ‘Be My Baby’ (what else?), the crowd are finally up dancing in the aisles and the superstar shakes hands with everyone who wants a piece of her and slinks backstage for a brief breather. Returning to perform a cover of the late Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’, she precedes this with a touching tribute - “thank you Amy, for reminding me that what I did mattered” before ending the set, fittingly, with a joyous rendition of last song ever recorded by The Ronettes, ‘I Can Hear Music’.

Ronnie Spector has previously been labelled “The Bad Girl of Rock & Roll” and this evening’s performance shows that she has still lost none of the attitude which gave her the reputation of such a powerhouse performer.


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