MARK RONSON: The set started with a catchy but alien instrumental track, “Circuit Breaker”, typifying Ronson’s new sound. Old favourites were not forgotten; one of Ronson’s enduring partnerships is with Phantom Planet frontman Greenwald, and their collaborative cover of Radiohead’s “Just”, is one of Version’s strongest legacies.
The O2 Academy in Glasgow is a far cry from the clubs of New York, and a slightly incongruous arena for the current Prince of Pop’s latest production, but this did not diminish the crowd’s eager anticipation of His Highness and his new retinue, the Business International.
Mark Ronson made his name on the New York club scene in the Nineties, moved into producing, and then – between stints fronting Tommy Hilfiger advertising campaigns – brought the world tracks such as Amy Winehouse’s version of “Valerie” (thus consigning the Zutons to the dustbin of history for anyone under 18).
Despite boasting an individual brand name, he is not a solo artist, and has written his new album Record Collection
– like the million-selling Version
–with a veritable army of collaborators, a select few being his current entourage.
Bordered by geometric red, white and black, Ronson appeared atop a podium - the quintessence of 80’s revival cool, the bandwagon on which he is currently riding to acclaim: peroxide quiff, mod-ish grey suit and enormous silver keyboard. The set started with a catchy but alien instrumental track, “Circuit Breaker”, typifying Ronson’s new sound. Old favourites were not forgotten; one of Ronson’s enduring partnerships is with Phantom Planet frontman Greenwald, and their collaborative cover of Radiohead’s “Just”, is one of Version’s
The show was angled for maximum crowd-pleasing, commercial value; a revue of well-rehearsed, recognisable tunes interspersed with the most instantly accessible tracks from the new record. The crowd was dominated by under-21s but there were a select handful who clearly had appreciated Ronson’s oldest hit, “Ooh Wee”, on its first outing. Ronson’s initial aloof nonchalance gave way to a frenetic performance, the immaculate coiffure lasting about as long as his first set of drumsticks.
This onstage energy emphasised Ronson’s change in sound – moving from the horn-based covers of Version
to the bass-, percussion- and synth-heavy original tracks of Record Collection
. The new album is far more of a pop record, pandering to current vogues in retro keyboards – noticeably in “You Gave Me Nothing” and instantly recognisable big intros, like that of the saccharine but enjoyable hit single “Bang Bang Bang”.
Despite this new perspective, Ronson does not ignore his hip-hop roots on the current tour, with Philadelphia rapper Spank Rock a major part of the show. When Ronson took to the decks mid-way through the set, he continued the 80s theme, sampling Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, but also incorporating Method Man and Pharoahe Monch. It demonstrated that DJing is still what he does best, and made musical talent, not fashion-conscience – the indubitable highlight of the night.
The Business International is obviously for Ronson exactly that, a business enterprise. The eponymous track of the new album includes the lyric, ‘I only want to be in your record collection’ and suggests he is aware of the dichotomy between chart success and musical credibility. However, Ronson still retains all his skill as a DJ and producer, and enlisting creative expertise in song-writing for Record Collection
has resulted in a slick pop album, that just about clings on to his signature style while ticking all the boxes for chart success. The current tour reflects this in its energy and feel-good factor. When Ronson tells us in Transatlantic tones, ‘Glasgow, this is the best show of my life!’ we don’t believe him for a minute, nevertheless, it’s good un-old-fashioned fun.
Mark Ronson and the Business Intl (including Alex Greenwald, M.N.D.R., Elinor Rose Dougall, Spank Rock and others)
Touring until 30th October 2010