Andy Howells reviews Ronnie Spector’s live concert at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall as part of The Festival of Voice.
From The Beatles to Amy Winehouse, many of popular music’s greats have sung the praises of Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes since they formed the final piece of Phil Spector’s infamous Wall of Sound back in the 1960s.
Ronnie’s inclusion in Cardiff’s Festival of Voice programme was therefore an important one. The decades rolled away as soon as Ronnie sang her signature opening “Whoa-Oh Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh” from the 1963 smash hit Baby I Love You on St David’s Hall’s stage last Friday evening.
Supported by three backing singers (suitably attired in 1960s style) and a five-strong band, Ronnie proceeded to tell the story of The Ronettes early 60s origins in Spanish Harlem, before getting their big break performing alongside Joey Dee and The Starliters in Manhattan’s Peppermint Lounge.
Ronnie’s story was illustrated with anecdotes, back screen projections of The Ronettes and a soundtrack of hits from songwriters including Goffin & King, Lennon & McCartney and Harry Nilsson. There was even a rendition of Keith Richards and Andrew Oldham’s I’d Much Rather Be with the Girls recalling The Ronettes 1964 UK tour with The Rolling Stones.
Highlights undoubtedly were renditions of The Ronettes classics Paradise and Is This What I Get for Loving You Baby? all capturing the essential 60s vibe. There was also a moving tribute to Ronnie’s sister Estelle with How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?
Cardiff’s audience gave a warm reception to Ronnie indicating that the music of The Ronettes is still very much loved.
Be My Baby brought the show to a close with Ronnie inviting the audience up to the front to have a dance, needless to say, she didn’t have to ask twice!
REVISED: January 2022