Tuesday 30 September 2008

Ronnie Spector, Glasgow Arches, 29/09/08

It was one of those nights, the best kind of nights, nights where you are nervous, you don't know what the performance will be like, let alone the result. The kind of night where there is a sense of anticipation in the air beforehand, is it really going to happen? I've always thought that you can compare some gigs to football matches and this was one of them. With a tingle of nervousness and excitement I entered The Arches to see Ronnie Spector.

The Arches is a unique venue in the heart of Glasgow, dis-used railway arches that used to be warehouses that have now been turned into a multi-purpose centre for arts and entertainment. Last night a crowd of all ages came to be entertained by one of the most famous female singers of all time - Ronnie Spector.

Spector was a member of the original all conqueoring girl group - The Ronettes. With Phil Spector writing and producing you had a chance of success, throw in the unique and beautiful vocals of Veronica Bennett (Ronnie Spector) backed by her sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley and you had a winning formula that produced outstanding moments of musical beauty.

Shortly before 9pm the lights dimmed and a guy resembling Peter Stringfellow took to the stage to announce that Ronnie would be on in 10-15 minutes. He then proceeded to warn the audience that any form of photography would result in a swift eviction from the premises - nice.

The dj's from Glasgow's 'Eyes Wide Open' club played rare grooves and beats from the 60's and the volume increased the closer to stage time. The Ronettes were not the original Ronettes, simply Ronnie's backing band. They came on and started jamming, they stopped and launched into 'I Wonder' and Ronnie entered from the back of the stage. She looked and sounded fantastic

The next hour and 15 minutes went by in a blur as Spector sang her heart out, playing hit after hit. There was a gorgeous opening sequence containing 'I Wonder', 'Do I Love You' and 'Why Won't They Let Us Fall In Love' before the crowd erupted with appreciation and Ronnie sang the classic 'Baby I Love You'.

Spector looked great, her jet black hair hanging loosely past her shoulders, a far cry from her beehive from the 60's. Her tight trousers were still a little too loose for her slim figure and she had to pull them up on a number of occassions. She would sit on the drum-riser and then gently walk to the front of the stage at the most dramatic moments in the music, a professional, working the crowd, but remaining out of reach.

The crowd contained people of all ages, from teenagers, to many in their 60's and probably their 70's as well. A lovely old couple in front of me told me that they were here for the guys 65th birthday and that he never thought he would see Ronnie live on stage. They swayed and sang along to tunes that have been the soundtrack to their life for 40 plus years.

The tunes - ah the tunes. The lyrics are remarkably simple at times, but they are lyrics that anyone and everyone can relate to - heartbreak, loss, wanting, needing and loving - genius. And the music, Spector was backed by two keyboardists, a drummer who resembles the drummer from Gorrillaz, bass and guitar. The band were, as you would expect, sh*t hot.

If the audience wondered how Ronnie could top the opening half, they didn't have to wonder for long. She rolled out classics such as 'Walking In The Rain' (probably my personal highlight of the night), 'So Young', 'Best Part Of Breaking Up' and then the song a lot of people had been waiting for 'Be My Baby'. Spector also threw in a song that Bruce Springsteen had written for her and 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' that she recorded with The Ramones.

To football style chants of 'Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie' she came on for an encore of 'I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine' and 'I Can Hear Music' leaving the crowd with huge smiles on their faces.

This was a remarkable gig, possibly once-in-a-lifetime. I hope she comes back!


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