Entitling a show The Amy Winehouse Show presents the artist with an ultimatum. Either commit completely to the image and sound, and hit the nail on the head, or otherwise offer a version of Winehouse that's not so much an imitation as a homage. In which case, be your fabulous self and and honour the artist with your interpretation of their music.
I am sad to say that, whilst Atlanta Coogan has an undoubtedly great voice, she failed to capture the essence of Winehouse and instead presented a confused imitation. Instead of the trademark beehive hair and make-up, we got a black wig with an ill placed flower, offering us 'Amy-tlanta', a strange mish-mash that just didn't come off.
The reading in between songs recounting chapters of Winehouse's life was awkward, and only vaguely relevant to the songs it served to introduce. It should have either been a super brief bio as a single introduction, or just banter in between to make it feel more like a gig. My friend on the night quipped, "I'd rather just watch the movie." And he was right. Winehouse spoke best through her music and it should've been all about that.
The Little Big Band backing Coogan were technically great musicians, but something in their energy just didn't gel. There was no sense of unity or true fun on stage. The only two people who genuinely seemed to be having a good time were the saxophonists, who engaged the audience and had some solo time. The band seemed to rely on cues from the singer a little too much, who a handful of times felt a little patronising, cutting them off with odd hand signals. It cheapened the act and made things seem a bit slap-dash.
Of all the songs performed during the one hour set, "Valerie" was the one that got juices flowing. It featured a couple of terrific saxophone solos, and gave the musicians a chance to let loose. These moments were the highlights of the show, as they offered glimmers of hope for an authentic musical experience. Alas, these bars were short lived, and we didn't even hear from the talented guitar or drum section. In all of her live shows Winehouse showcased her band and valued their input. Here we got strange vibes and a show that felt like a polished karaoke session. The show should've closed on that single high, but instead we ended up with an upbeat and somewhat sloppy "Monkey Man", as it was Winehouse's favourite tune to end on. However, ending on a strange bouncy number wasn't right for a tightly-seated show with a slowly disengaging audience.
The show inexplicably fell short, which reflected in the thin applause despite the full house. This really demonstrated what a unique snowflake Amy Winehouse truly was. Even a woman with a great voice and a tight band couldn't come close to doing her justice.