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Remembering Amy Winehouse In Chicago

Amy Winehouse made her Chicago debut on May 3, 2007 at the Vic; the demand for two shows originally scheduled for Schuba's led to moving the gig to the larger venue. She returned that August for Lollapalooza and was scheduled to come back yet again for a show at the Aragon that September, but less than two weeks after her Lolla appearance (and following two opening slots for the Rolling Stones) she cancelled the remainder of her tour "to address her health issues."

Let's take a look at the video and the reviews of Amy Winehouse in Chicago.

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April 27, 2007: By Greg Kot and Bill Meyer, Tribune.

"The aptly named [Amy Winehouse] has become the toast of the U.K. with her alcohol-fueled off-stage antics, and Back to Black is riddled with tales of boozing, lusting and losing. She name-drops or references heroes such as Donny Hathaway, Billy Paul and the Shangri- La's in her songs, and the production is a tarted up version of '60s girl-group pop, Motown, soul and blue-beat R&B. It's all cleverly done, with production by Mark Ronson and Salaamremi Com slavishly evoking the dramatic soundscapes of those lost eras, while Winehouse's gutsy voice veers between street-smart surliness and wounded supplication. She's singing about adults struggling to stay faithful, optimistic and sober in the face of temptation and their own sordid pasts. But these retro grooves go only so far before it starts to feel like the 23-year-old singer is playing an elaborate game of dress-up."

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May 3, 2007: By Jessica Hopper, Reader.

"She's got a hoodlum elegance to match her bad-girl lyrics: she looks and sounds like a Ronette after a bid downstate, wearing thick eyeliner and a bouffy Indian-princess weave, opera gloves replaced by poke tats. On the album's first single, 'Rehab,' she refuses to clean up with a low 'no no no,' insistent as a stickup kid, and across nine more tracks of sophisticated boom-boom, she gets high, gets drunk, gets it on with other girls' boyfriends, cries, and begins again. But she's hardly apologetic - she pushes aside the lessons learned so she can get just a little more lovin'."

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May 3, 2007, at the Vic: Uploaded by doublegeezy.

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May 5, 2007: By Joshua Klein, Tribune.

"Winehouse has a strong voice and a handful of fine songs, but she just didn't seem up to task Thursday [at the Vic]. At best, her ace backing band, the Dap-Kings, which injected new life into every retro R&B rave-up from Winehouse's second album, Back to Black, outclassed her. At worst, she lacked the control to put that voice to good use, mumbling unintelligibly rather than working on her phrasing . . .

"Songs such as 'Rehab,' 'You Know I'm No Good' and 'He Can Only Hold Her,' went over well, almost well enough to justify the hype. But Winehouse appears the rare buzz act able but almost unwilling to meet expectations. During 'Rehab,' she seemed more interested in keeping her hair from spilling over than blasting her hit. Earlier in the night, midsong, she put nearly as much effort into picking something mysterious from her teeth as she did delivering her lyrics.

"No question, the machine has moved on without her, and despite her best (worst) efforts, her music has met with strong favor. But to paraphrase Winehouse's idols the Specials, it all seems a little too much, too soon."

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May 5, 2007: By Anders Lindall Smith, Sun-Times.

"When British soul singer Amy Winehouse made her Chicago debut Thursday at the Vic Theatre, her dueling reputations preceded her. Winehouse is either a tabloid train wreck or a surefire star," Anders Lindall Smith wrote for the Sun-Times on May 5, 2007. "She's keeping classic soul alive or raiding its tomb. She's a legit sensation or a total fraud . . .

"Winehouse's Thursday returns were mixed. When she succeeded, it wasn't with flying colors or without a lot of help from her friends the Dap-Kings, a sharp funk-soul band best known for backing shouter Sharon Jones. Toting two guitars, bass, drums, keys and horns, they gave Winehouse the freedom to move from slinky soul to proto rock 'n' roll. Accustomed to blowing hot behind Jones, they played this one cool, favoring a laid-back lounge vibe that in theory would give Winehouse 's outsized personality and pipes plenty of room.

"Trouble was, neither her throat nor her persona filled that space. The recorded Winehouse sings big and smoky, and unlike too many contemporaries she also sings straight to the point, but at the Vic she exaggerated and elaborated notes at the price of concision and punch. Worse, the chesty bluster so crucial to her brasher songs was replaced by thinner nasal tones."

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August 5, 2007: At Lollapalooza uploaded by ednla.

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July 23, 2011: By Greg Kot, Tribune.

"Amy Winehouse, who was found dead Saturday at her home in London, left behind a small body of celebrated work and immeasurable unfulfilled promise. She was 27.

"She formed a hip-hop duo in her teens, but soon began writing songs on an acoustic guitar influenced by her extensive listening to her parents' and grandmother's collection of jazz and soul singers. She often cited Tony Bennett as her favorite singer, and developed a vocal style of a depth and tonal color beyond her years. Her debut album, Frank, was released in 2003, steeped in jazz and soul influences and largely written by Winehouse. It made her a star in Britain, though it was not released in the United States.

"On the follow-up, she retooled her approach by hiring pop R&B producer Mark Ronson and the New York soul band the Dap-Kings. Her songs reflected the influence of harmonizing '60s girl groups such as the Shangri-La's and the rhythms of Motown. Back to Black name-dropped or referenced soul heroes such as Donny Hathaway and Billy Paul, and the production recycled and spiffed up '60s sounds. But Winehouse's lyrics were packed with autobiographical tales of boozing, lusting and losing. That perspective, combined with a voice that veered between street-smart surliness and wounded yearning, established her as a major new voice in pop music."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on July 26, 2011


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