Fortified by chips and steak and kidney pie (kidney content = trace) and a pint of organic Honeydew beer from The Old Fish Market we last night made our way through freezing Bristol rain to the smoky dungeon that is the Carling Academy, there to be entertained by Amy Winehouse (Amy standing on one of the very few crossroads where the musical taste-paths of Brit and Brit-ess happen to meet, to stretch a metaphor).
In the nicest possible way she’s as mad as a hatter, is Amy, filling the gaps between songs with amiable, sweary banter delivered in a caustic, almost incomprehensible cockney babble and cackling with laughter at her own tipsy jokes.
But what a singing voice! Her effortless, soaring jazzy rasp can strip the layers of grime from the walls.
At the moment she’s playing small, all-standing indie-rock venues like the Academy. With her motown-y, jazzy, R&B-ish talent the logical career progression would be to tone down the ribald lyrics, make it big in America and end up being a diva doing residencies at Las Vegas.
Yet she is in many ways the anti-diva. True divas should give the impression they come from another planet; Amy gives the impression she came along as part of a hen party and got dragged up on stage. She has an utter lack of grace which is quite endearing: she can’t walk in her stilettos and doesn’t know what to do with her hands, constantly fidgeting with her dress and breaking into strange, jerky dances. She giggles incessantly.
There’s no evidence of that invisible barrier that’s supposed to exist between her and her (mostly young, female, slightly grungey) audience – literally so at the end, when she came from backstage to join the crowd, pose for mobile phone photos and continue the raucous hen party banter with the mob. You wouldn’t catch Beyonce doing that.