She Is Ronnie Spectacular
To fathom that the ‘Swinging 60’s’ were not the epoch of sublime musical accomplishment, would be tantamount to claiming that Woodstock was not the breathing definition of harmonious hedonism.
Bouncing between the rambunctious formation of four famous Liverpudlians, the delectable crooning of Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” and the Detroit detonation of Motown’s creation, the era contains countless examples of what made it so unarguably iconic.
One of many songs that continuously rotated over the record players was “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes who regrettably ended their career together but the Spanish Harlem honey named Veronica Bennett continued to progress, eventually wending her way to the Welsh capital for the Festival of Voice, celebrating everything she had come to value as Ronnie Spector, including the life of her sister Estelle Bennett.
The stalls of St Davids Hall remained disappointingly empty with the main floor seats scattered with gaps. This however, only meant to the pop forerunner that those who were in attendance would not be disappointed.
Ronnie walked out with a small frame and huge smile on her face with arms open wide to take in the love and affection radiating from the audience as her backing singers delivered a sexy swing of well rehearsed choreography with voices as soft as Persian silk to the legendary stylings of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”.
In between tracks, Ms Spector took a seat where she narrated The Ronettes musical career and many influences she gathered over the years with an enthusiastic vibrancy.
The Peppermint lounge was one such tale, filled with amusing stories of Kleenex padding and how they thrust themselves into the spotlight alongside Joey Dee and the Starliters, demonstrating just how much vigor the twist should be conducted in.
Photographs, news clippings and video footage of her and her sisters losing themselves and developing their wild side were projected onto the wall behind her along with all the artists they had the pleasure of working with including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, Johnny Thunders and the Beatles who they became close friends of from their first night in the United Kingdom.
The seventy two year old had the crowd in the palm of her hands with her long flowing hair reflecting light as she strode the stage with a can-do attitude but also held her fair share of emotional strain which may have taken its toll through some emphasised notes depicting her love for her Estelle (who she dedicated the show to).
A collection of covers such as Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black”, The Beatles “I’ll Follow The Sun” and Mr Thunders “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” were re-appropriated to a Ronette rendition with some of her own thrown into the mix like “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking In the Rain”.
A familiar trait for most acts crossing performance paths with St Davids Hall is the inevitability of a standing ovation, but Ronnie’s came much sooner than expected.
From the tall, young and bearded to the frail, silver haired and near sighted, people were up and throwing all sorts of shapes, racing down to the front to join her for “Be My Baby” as she crossed from one side to the other blowing kisses and shaking palms with a genuine sense of appreciation cast over her.
Leaving the venue, dotted conversations had one thing in common and that was the jaw-dropping awe that everyone had been left in. Ronnie Spector was quirky, sassy and downright adorable.