It can be any time of the day. You can be doing anything from the blandly mundane or the bogglingly difficult. An Amy Winehouse song comes on. Maybe it’s one of her more upbeat tunes? You get a little spring in your step. Maybe it’s one of her more, shall we say, personal numbers? “Back to Black”, perhaps. Then, you hear that haunted howl thundering out of your speakers, or your headphones, reaching from some turbulent shore and raining raw emotion down through your entire body. For a moment, it’s like she never left us. The connection to each and every word, the way her voice feels like her own soul cascading out of her body and into the ether, it’s like she’s there. But addiction is a demon that has taken more from the arts than the sea has drowned men. She’s gone. Truly worthy to stand beside Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, in more than just the age they reached before the dragon won its hard-fought battle. Even seven years on, it’s a hard realisation to come to, and gives what she did leave behind for all of us who listen a certain gravitas that will never diminish.
One performer who ensures we never forget the gift that Winehouse was is Carol Whitfield, who together with an incredible four-piece band is bringing the music to the Butterfly Club in a series of intimate and powerful performances. What must be noted first is Whitfield’s love for the music she’s bringing us; she narrowly avoids tears when she speaks about the woman who created the sounds, and channels Winehouse during her performances in such an innate and devoted way that at times, in the low light when the beehive and the white dress is all we can really see, it almost feels like the real thing. But then again, some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart. Whitfield pays a final respect to Winehouse by not trying to emulate her vocals or imitate her too heavily. She was so unique, to do so would be a disaster anyway. Whitfield knows and trusts that she has enough of a connection of her own to bring us her interpretation of the songs, an act of courage that must be applauded.
With the accompaniment of four brilliant musicians, “Beyond the Beehive” had them dancing in their seats, crying quietly in the shadows, and finally left us glad that we have this little gift to reflect on in the long and beautiful annuls of musical history.
Review by Max Davine