Mark Ronson, Hammersmith Apollo, London


A radical joins the mainstream

Mark Ronson's Brit Award was the final nail in the coffin of his credibility. A year ago, maybe, his was still a name worth dropping. But even that was probably a bit late – one always ran the risk of meeting some clever clogs who claimed to own Ronson's little-known first album, Here Comes the Fuzz. As the curtain rose on 2008, with Version entrenched in the minds of MOR listeners nationwide, Ronson will have had to admit he's joined the mainstream.

Hence his Hammersmith Apollo gig has a far higher screaming teenage girl quotient than his shows ever used to, with the audience of 5,000 making it Ronson's biggest headline to date. The format remains rather like a charity concert. Every other song, a new guest performer is ushered to the mic, but, as on Version, the sound remains consistent thanks to Ronson's arrangements and the gameness of his band, The Version Players. A string quartet double as dancers (or at least bob their heads in time); the drummer and the brass section are both tight as, well, a drum; and bassist Stuart Zender has been a star in his own right as part of Jamiroquai's line-up.

Their considerable skills do slightly show up Ronson's lesser instrumental prowess, and this remains a problem for a guy who made his name as a superb DJ and producer, but now must become a performer too. He has plenty of his own charisma, yet always defers to his string of guest vocalists. In a sense, he is used to being the director, and now finds himself caught looking a little awkward onscreen. Should he play the leading man, or just be best supporting actor?

Ronson's greatest strength – better than his competent but limited guitar playing, for example – is his impeccable taste. His suits are natty, both the blue velvet number from the Brits and the sparkly brown tux he sports at the Apollo. His choice of songs to cover on Version had both breadth and depth; the production choices, even on lesser tracks, had panache; and his choice of collaborators was right on the money. We all know about the female stars with whose careers Ronson's own has intertwined, but in the absence of Lily Allen or Amy Winehouse, it is his male vocalists who really shine tonight.

Kenna has been an unknown quantity over here until now, but the American singer's first UK performance proves revelatory. His cover of Ryan Adams's "Amy" is exhilarating, with the live band and Kenna's dancing for company, and his own "Out of Control" is thrilling, too. Daniel Merriweather, the Australian vocalist best known for singing on Ronson's hit single "Stop Me", charms with that song, as well as a White Stripes cover and "Chainsaw", from his own forthcoming album.

Ronson's version of "Valerie" with Amy Winehouse bought the song's originators, The Zutons, a new house, he boasts. His confidence and coyness are a strange mixture, and it's hard to tell which, if either, is a front and which is for real. Introducing Tim Burgess, one of his teen idols (who performs "The Only One I Know", by his band The Charlatans), and perhaps attempting to be humble, he says: "So what if I won a few Grammys and a Brit? I'm still a fan." He name-drops Allen, whom he saw play here on her last tour; Adele, who is in the audience tonight; and Slash, whom he mentions for no other reason than that he met the guitarist in California a couple of weeks back. It's not as if we don't all already know how blithely Ronson has mingled with rock royalty his entire life.

Version's bastardised funk and soul tropes may be familiar now, but when his cover of Radiohead's "Just" first did the rounds in 2006, the sound was exciting, shiny and new. It's still great fun, but soon it'll lose its lustre. Ronson himself says he's getting tired of covers. Maybe it's almost time to find a new trick.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture