Four full-size piano-keyboards on futuristic chrome pedestals balance on the stage, each with a set of ’80s-tastic drum pads. Unsurprisingly, the set up for Mark Ronson and The Business Intl. in The Academy is impressive.The opening number, a full-bodied proggy instrumental, further infers the promise of something celestial – sadly this turns out not be the case.
On the eve of the release of his latest album Record Collection Ronson oddly, or wisely (depending on how you look at it), plays a set of crowd-pleasers; a collection of covers that make up Version – his last album. Again, this may have been a wise move, the Jackson 5 flavour on Radiohead’s ‘Just’ riled the crowd up but the interpretations of The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me’, Kaiser Chief’s ‘Oh My God’ and Coldplay’s ‘God Put A Smile’ all take a similar slant, that of a loungey pub-band. The theme-tune from The OC says it all about that element of the show; mega-fun but equally throw-away – hardly the forward looking show expected from the newly gathered ensemble. They are stylish though, in the sense that they look good … really good. The front row of The Business International looked like Sue Pollard, Paolo Nutini, Sophie Ellis Bextor and one half of Jedward. It’s just a shame they didn’t sound that interesting.
In the middle section Ronson reverted to his day job , that of a party DJ. After some scratching he dropped ‘Pon de Floor’, a safety-net of a tune used across the board to save any party, mixed in with some Depeche Mode the probable intention here was to display depth of musical taste as well as his mixing skills. Thank you for that.
So far, so underwhelming. Enter MNDR. Now, it’s no secret that we love Amanda Garner around these parts but it’s for good reason – MNDR has an exciting energy, originality and she brings it in spades. The performance of her own tune ‘Fade To Black’ has less production than any other song of the night but still manages to outshine them all. Ok, not them all. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ was explosive. Seeing one of the year’s best tracks live was nothing short of spine-tingling. This is not all down to MNDR, Mark Ronson deserves just as much accolade and touring MC Izza Kizza did inject some serious energy, in his own set too and throughout the show.
There’s no denying Mark Ronson’s talent, and his geeky cool persona scores a 10 on the scale of likeability, but his production work far outshines his own material – without question. In saying that, the performances of his own material, like the encore ‘The Bike Song’ complete with Kyle Falconer (The View), are electric but alas, it’s down to the cover of The Zutons /Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ to really do the business.
Photo from Grimy Goods.