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Fraser McAlpine | 16:36 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Eden Project

I write this in a state of some considerable shock, having spent a restless night attempting to work out what exactly I have been witness to, and how it impacts on my deepest-held beliefs and sense of fair play with regard to music and how it is written and performed.

This is the third in the series of Special Reports from the Eden Project in Cornwall, where various chart stars (and Rufus Wainwright) have come to perform a series of concerts. Last night was Amy Winehouse's turn, and my GOD that girl can pack a lot of action into a short set.

Sadly, not all of it is the kind of action people enjoy paying good money to see...

Here's the full story of an evening which is burned indelibly onto the cerebral cortex of every single person within a five-mile radius at the time. Apart from Amy herself, of course...

It started so well. A friendly hello from the Jesses on the press desk, one of whom (I call her Jess 1, cos you've got to have a system), had been beaten up by a grumpy surf-board. And then going to get a drink and being served by a man called Adam...in EDEN, SEE? I kept my eyes peeled, but I couldn't see anyone called Eve, or any talking snakes. But I sense a genius marketing opportunity here. Certainly in the home-brew cider department...

*comes to senses* ANYWAY...apparently bookies were taking bets at 1-2 on that Amy wouldn't show at all (that means most people thought she wouldn't), and who's to say whether they turned out to be right or wrong in the final analysis?

Amy WinehouseSeriously, it must be bloody weird inside Amy Winehouse's head right now (not that we'd know, taking a look would involve some kind of hair-mining drill for starters). But it's got to be a strange place, full of pictures of the various different people she seems to be able to turn into at the drop of a hat - part stroppy madam, part shy faun, part punch-drunk docker's missus, part self-effacing trouble-magnet...part jazz-siren, part air-raid siren.

Here's a list of the Amys who came to play at Eden...

NICE AMY: Came out for the first half hour. Sang beautifully, in tune, exchanged happy glances with her backing band, danced, attempted to talk to the audience a bit, failed, but charmingly.

CONFUSED AMY: "So...do you all live in Cornwall, or did you travel?"
"I didn't even know these, what are they? Bio-domes? I didn't know they've been here for, what? Four years? I'm so ignorant...I know NOTHING...I really do..."

DIRTY-PROTEST AMY: Spat on someone in the photographer's pit. Spat on the stage in a venomous fashion. Kept hitching those denim shorts up, pulling her vest down, and generally acting as if she is uncomfortable in her own skin.

Angry AmyANGRY AMY: Disappeared off-stage after half-an-hour, then came back on in a FOUL temper. Glared at her band for daring to fill the empty stage time with some jazz noodling. Then, after a couple of brilliant songs made famous by '70s punk-ska legends the Specials, tetchily asked the audience if we wanted to know who the people in her band were, and when we failed to hoot with delight, sniped "whatever, I'm going to tell you anyway", which she did, for AGES...

SWEARY AMY: Having abandoned small talk (and singing the bulk of the melodies in her own songs) for the latter half of the concert, Amy took to shooting venomous looks into the crowd and occasionally swearing into her microphone between songs. Oh, and running off-stage as well.

NOT-REALLY-THERE AMY: Here's a You-Tube clip someone did of 'Rehab'. It's not massively damning...or is it?

GRUMPY DIVA AMY: Whatever your opinions of cheesy all-round entertainers like Robbie Williams or Mika, it's very unlikely that they would ever choose to reward fans at a show by coming back for an encore in an even fouller mood than ever, then staring out all of their band, then stroppily yelling "F*** it, JUST 'Valerie'", and then doing most of a version of that Zutons song, before running offstage and leaving her backing singers to finish it, and not coming back at all. Not even to say goodnight.

Probably there were some other Amys having fun backstage, but I missed them...

So there you have it. That's got to be the definitive Amy Winehouse experience, right? It's hard to think of many other people who can treat their audience with such disdain at times, and still get away with it. Pete Doherty did it for a while, but even HE has had to pull his finger out in recent months.

Despite all this, whatever is going on with Madame Winehouse is a massive part of how she gets to write the kind of self-lacerating, truthful songs that she does. It's a massive part of who she IS, hence all the stuff with the bookies and people expecting a massive heap of wayward with their tortured soul music.

The terrible irony is that people love Amy for being emotionally raw in her work, but actually being around someone who is that emotionally raw while AT work is pretty uncomfortable.

But then who said going to see gigs has to be a comfortable experience anyway? It's music, not massage!

Full pics of the whole thing are available at the BBC Cornwall website...

More ChartBlog reports from Eden:
Lily Allen...
Rufus Wainwright...
James Morrison...


  1. At 11:52 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Andy Shaw wrote:

    I was at Glasto/Mudsto this year and asked a girl who she thought fell into the "last chance to see" category - she replied seriously "Pete Doherty because he may be dead soon" - this answer surprised me and so I did a bit of market research and found loads of other unrelated people thought she was right. I saw Amy Winehouse too - strange thing is that i'm beginning to have the same thought about her. I thought that I was listening to a tortured soul produce music - the thought of a tortured soul heading for heaven like a homesick angel never really crossed my mind. I'm now kind of getting used to the idea that I wouldnt be totally surprised if thats how things end up. I do hope that Amy manages to straighten herself out in time to prove my intuition wrong.

  2. At 01:25 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Danielle wrote:

    Agree with alot of what is said above and below..

    it seems the most inspiring and creative souls are also the most broken ones, i just hope amy manages not to take it too far

    She cracks me up though...

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