What had seemed unthinkable a month ago has happened: Amy Winehouse managed to turn up and perform at two separate functions.
Earlier in the week she serenaded Nelson Mandela at his 90th Birthday Concert, and last night I caught her set at Glastonbury. Although she had four cocktail umbrellas in her hair she couldn’t have been drunk: her beehive looked so top-heavy that in those four-inch heels she would have been flat on her face quicker than a punter diving into a formerly unspoiled pool of Glastonbury mud.
Another factor that repudiated any chance of her being tipsy was that she remembered the names of her accompanying jazz band, backing singers and dancers; and gave each of them a chance to show off their formidable talent and range.
She also remembered the words to the songs, sometimes throwing in the occasional ad-lib. In an hour’s performance she got through twelve songs; including well-known crowd-pleasers like “Back To Black” and “You Know I’m No Good”, and lesser-known works like “Cupid” and “Hey Little Rich Girl”
Given recent events in Amy’s life there was something almost heroic about her diminutive frame tottering and dancing about the stage; belting out her songs in her wonderfully soulful, sultry, powerful voice while making it look effortless; adjusting and cracking jokes about her tiny, blue-sequinned dress; and yes, having the occasional little drink.
The crowd was jubilant when she got down from the stage and performed “Me and Mr Jones” within touching distance of the front row; indeed she even clasped hands with a few people. Amusingly, the security guards had trouble keeping up with her at times as she skipped along in front of the ranks of fans, who were delighted to be so close to her.
At the final note of “Rehab” she cast a cheeky, almost defiant smile at the camera, and Glastonbury erupted. Hopefully the success of her routines over the past week will encourage her to do more. Her husband is due to be released from prison in two weeks, so she informed the crowd. Whether that will help or hinder her remains to be seen.