Mark Ronson & The Business International @ The Enmore Theatre, Sydney (11/03/2011)
The Mark Ronson bubble has certainly burst since he was last here for Global Gathering back in 2008. While Ronson’s 2007 collection of covers Version found itself high up in album charts around the world, it’s his most recent (and all original) Record Collection that has certainly launched Mark Ronson into the greater public consciousness.
Record Collection bares little resemblance to Version. Horns have been replaced by synths and his fling with jazz/funk has been dumped in favour of pop. With such a shift in sound (and a few years between tours) it’s no surprise that Ronson has re-thunk his live show.
While his last tour resembled “more of a revue” with a string of guest cameos, this time around Ronson’s guests are actually his new band – The Business International – a group of talented and versatile musicians handpicked by Ronson to work with him both on the album and stage.
Although at risk of fighting to upstage one another, Ronson’s guests play their parts fair and well. Baltimore rapper Spank Rock bursts on stage for second song Lose It, filling in for Ghostface Killah before playing his part on crowd pleaser The Bike Song. He also handles Q-Tip’s part on Bang Bang Bang (and any other rap section for that matter) as if it were his own.
Alex Greenwald of Californian band Phantom Planet fronts up for a number of tracks, including his first collaboration with Ronson – a cover of Radiohead’s Just from Version. When Greenwald asks the crowd if he can perform one of his own tracks, a sing-along of epic proportions ensues as the crowd belt out theme song from The OC, California.
Former Pipette and name to watch, Rose Elinore Dougall threatens to overshadow Ronson himself, providing vocals and an abundance of stage presence. While her Record Collection track Hey Boy lacks the energy of other tracks, her rendition of Kaiser Chiefs’ Oh My God rivals Lily Allen’s attempt on Version.
Dougall is joined on stage by Andrew Wyatt (of Miike Snow fame) for their duet on You Gave Me Nothing, before the pair sadly murder Ronson & Daniel Merriweather’s version of The Smiths Stop Me. Andrew Wyatt also treats the crowd to Ronson’s reggae inspired remix of Miike Snow track Animal before joining Greenwald on standout track Somebody to Love Me.
Amanda Warner, aka MNDR, fails to impress. Her quirky looks and confident moves don’t save her from losing the crowd’s attention during her own tracks, prompting raised eyebrows and blank faces throughout. She does manage to somewhat redeem herself though during her performance of Bang Bang Bang.
Despite vowing to tone things down a bit this time around, Ronson doesn’t let his band members take all the limelight. Thanks to some encouragement from Lady Gaga (true story), Ronson shows off his newly acquired singing skills on track Lose It, an interesting contribution considering Ronson once described his voice as sounding “like a cat being raped by a gorilla”.
He also shows off his hip-hop roots with first hit Ooh Wee before turning the night into “a nasty New York rave” during a short DJ set – mixing together a string of crowd pleasers including Pond De Floor, Simon Says (Get The Fuck Up) and New York State of Mind.
While I usually ignore it when artists make gushing claims about how great this show was compared to others, it’s hard to dismiss Ronson’s call that this particular show was “in the top three” shows he performed as part of his new project with The Business International. The crowd went truly berserk for Ronson’s brand of unashamed pop music and Ronson seemed genuinely humbled.