SOUL JAZZ AMY WINEHOUSE Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 21 Apr

Imagine being the muse of a great artist. Shakespeare’s dark lady of the sonnets or the Athena poster guy cradling the baby. lmmortalised in oils like the Mona Lisa, you’d smile pretty damn smueg too. But then spare a thought for Amy Winehouse’s ex-boyfriend, the ‘lady boy’ laid bare across the singer- songwriter’s excellent and revealingly titled debut album, Frank. He knows where he went wrong.

‘He wasn’t like any other man I’ve known,’ claims the 20-year-old Camden-born chanteuse. Her breathless north London accent betrays the precocious youth disguised on record. That’s where the cracked, honeyed yet husky vocals of her hip hop-laced jazz have drawn comparisons to everyone from Erykah Badu to Sarah Vaughn and Lauren Hill to Dinah Washington and Minnie Ripperton, resemblances which the self-trained guitarist is flattered but bemused by. ‘He was a writer, very sensitive and in touch with the way he felt. But sometimes it would frustrate me that he couldn’t be more of a man.’

An incredibly open interviewee, she finds self- expression cathartic and informs me that she just peed during the question (we’re on the phone, but it’s still a surprise), continuing after a beat: ‘You can only base a relationship on sex for a short amount of time. We got to a point where I almost killed him. He’d come to my house after work and I’d make him stay up all night, I wouldn’t let him sleep and he almost had a nervous breakdown. He chucked me and I wrote ‘Take the Box’. Then we got back together and it was nice, but I was like, you know what? You’re a big fucking pussy. And that’s why we’re gonna split up. ‘Stronger Than Me’, there’s the reason we’re not together now. He was my big man but I had to look after him.

What the fuck is that about?’

For such a ball-buster, Winehouse is surprisingly sweet (“Don’t print anything making me sound like a big-mouthed idiot!’), but suffers fools not at all, railing against her record company for adding “two pieces of shit songs’ to Frank. Despite evidence to the contrary - ‘I’ll be demoing everything from the studio in my


house. There’s no way they can fuck with that!’ - she still claims to have a great relationship with them, and is glad the album isn’t perfect. ‘Because then l’d get complacent and what can I aim for with the second one? I still have time to go out and meet nice young men, but nothing is important to me but the music.’ (Jay Richardson)



Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 28 Apr, 1. 25, 27, 29 May, 3, 5, 8 & 11 Jun;

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 15, 17. 19, 22, 24 & 26 Jun

Out with the Old

Th‘nk La boherne. and if you think Paris. then think again. In Scottish Opera's new production of Puccini's ri‘ost perfect opera. director and designer Stewart Laing forsakes the French garret without a backwards glance and heads straight for New York. Willian‘sburg. the Jewish quarter where 2 1 st century arty arriyistes don‘t quite yet live happily alongsade the Hasidim who were there first. s Laing's 200/1 equivalent of l830s Bohemia. Taking the stery of the Struggling artists and their challenging love lives right up to the present day. Laing says ‘I just imagined a irode.rn context for the opera to

be happening in. Williamsburg is now the only affordable part of New York. so I imagined it happening there.’

Laing. whose personal experience of Williamsburg can‘e Via a Creative Scotland Award. says he approached Boheme 'by making a list of eyerything I wasn't interested in, the things that productions usually seem to obsess about.‘ So there is no Paris - ‘it's not hip and cool anymore': no poverty - ‘the idea of poverty on the operatic stage is a bit of a Joke; no Christmas - 'we're not even doing it at that time of year'; and no 19th century. ‘Once yOu've thrown out these things. it forces you to look at the opera in a different way.‘ he says. ‘and what I'm really interested in is success and failure and which is the more useful one in life' There remain, of course. Puccini's fateful relationships. which Laing feels represent a very modern issue. 'It's abOut falling in love with someone the first time you meet them. but then it's shorthved.’ All of this is a far Cry from Laing's more traditional La boheme for Scottish Opera Go Round in 1995. ‘But that was my first opera'. he says. “and l was on my best behaViour then.‘ lCarol Main)

COUNTRY PQNK THE MEKONS The Venue, Edinburgh, Wed 21 Apr

Calling an album Pii/‘k Flock in such squeaky-clean ti'nes s ask ifg for trouble. Uniess yo..'re the Mekons. that is. who for more tl‘ar‘ half a century have been stirring .t ui). from Yorkshire to Chicago and pack. where'er they roa'it. Look at the exude-r‘ce. When the Mekons last p’ayed Edinburgh H‘- ‘988. a ‘ren/sed female ‘ai‘ whipped her top off and ran onstage to pogo. Last t 7176} froi‘tii‘an starsxart Joh Langford play ed here vnth h:s oth >r band. the Waco Brothers. a rods-pg furr‘. of the Clash's 'l Fought the Law' prompted burly bouncers to rt." him out of toy-xix. Forriied :rf the unlzkely hotbed of Leeds Ur‘i\.'ersity 's fine art course in the iate 70s. in terms of ai‘gular guitar 'll()\'OS and frontlirfe agit-ixr'trcai sayyy. the Mekons stood alongside the Gang of Four and Delta acts 'tow renered by the c irrent crop of punk tankers. No surprise then. that the band's .‘rst two s'rfgles. Never Been n a Riot' and ‘\"‘.’here Were You. were released or‘ Erliiti>.irgl‘.'s substance- styled Fast Product Label. Beyond sucl‘ early blare. the Mekons grew up to ‘oye (I()t..".lr‘,’ riftisic and beco'iie a raggle- taggle "ybi'd of trad‘folk- CD‘S/l)tll‘K-lNCflOSI troubadours. eventually hitcngng a ride stateside to spearhead altcountry'n' ‘orthern. The new album finds the band covering theiitselyes. as songs from the 78—8‘1 era. includhg ‘Neyer Beer: an a Riot.' are dusted down by old hands With plenty of venom to spare. So? Fee'ing lucky. punk? " . 'Neli Cooperl Old hands when it comes to riots

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