Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Broken hearts were everywhere onstage for Mark Ronson’s headlining slot in a DJ-only show to see in the new year as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s main event. Two pieces of a giant silver construction sit like a collapsed mirrorball, dwarfing the midas-touch producer as he sits inbetween, where his desk-top console resides. Behind him, a twelve-strong all-female string section featuring Scottish Chamber Orchestra violinists Aisling O’Dea and Siun Milne, plus cellist Niamh Malloy swish out the sort of lush clusters barely heard since the Biddu Orchestra turned disco into a classical gas.
Other hearts are either framed in red as neon shapes zigzag about them, or else spiral round like Joe 90 might hatch like a Kinder toy. Ronson moves through a set of the last decade’s bangers at a gallop. He only pauses to don guitar for a brief guest slot from Daniel Merriweather, whose Ronson-produced mash-up of the Smiths and the Supremes on Stop Me remains sublime, despite his patter suggesting ambitions to be an international peace envoy.
Warm-ups came care of the vintage punky reggae party of Mungo’s Hi-Fi sound system and the old skool hands-in-the-air vibes of Rudimental’s Leon ‘Locksmith’ Rolle, accompanied by free-styling trumpeter Mark Crowney. There are more hearts here, as Rolle gets the audience to make shapes with their hands.
All of which fits in with this year’s Be Together theme. Not that there’s been much togetherness in responses to what some see as the serious mismanagement of Edinburgh’s Winter festivals. The resultant brickbats raise serious questions regarding the event’s future - if it has one – that must be addressed.
In the meantime, Ronson’s medley of his own hits synchronised to the turn-of-year fireworks is a work of eye and ear-popping razzmatazz. As are his slightly spooky closing renditions of Back to Black and Valerie. The power of Amy Winehouse’s disembodied vocal is heightened by the image of her bee-hived visage that covers the stage wall. Winehouse’s face is bent down, as if acknowledging the broken mirrorball below. All heart, as ever.
The Herald, January 2nd 2020