Pssst ... let me let you in on a little secret. The first time I saw Veronica Bennett on our old 16 inch black and white TV, I did what any testosterone driven 14 years old kid would do - and I did it furiously. Get the point?
A young Ronnie Spector oozed sexuality, while her vocals packed overwhelming passion combined with a unique vibe of vulnerability. This
"Bad Girl of Rock 'n Roll" was one hot young woman.
Sure, I dug the
Supremes. Their body of work cannot be disputed. But the Berry Gordy
creation always struck me as being just too damn homogenized for their own
good. I mean can you really compare Diana Ross warbling "Baby Love" to the
Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes sizzling "Do I Love You?" ... or Ronnie's
plaintiff cry for love in "Walking in the Rain?"
Now, push the hands
ahead about 40 years. The Ronnie Spector Christmas Show turned up at
promoter Ron Onesti's Arcada Theater Sunday night. Yes, Ronnie gave lip
service to handful of Christmas tunes, but that was something of a red
herring. Really, who wants to hear Ronnie sing about reindeer when she
can remind you that the Ronettes originally performed "I Can Hear Music", a
song that later became a minor hit for the Beach Boys.
brought me to tears with her superb cover of the Carpenters' underrated
"Yesterday Once More" ("Every Sha La La La") and the Students' "So Young." "Young", a cut on an early
Beach Boys, album serves as further evidence that a youthful Brian Wilson
was clearly enamored by doo wop.
There was one significant let down ... Ronnie
got very little help from her band or backup singers. Quite frankly, I've
seen wooden Indians with more musical punch and on-stage presence. Can you
say "Going Through the Motions"? In particular, the band's "bridges" failed
to give you any feeling of the power and dynamic of Phil Spector's Wall of
Ronnie Spector will be 72 this summer. She's at an age where most
women are playing scrabble or doting on grand children. Not this
kid. Ronnie, the diminutive chick from New York's Spanish Harlem, who
appears, shall we say, to have had several surgical procedures (no big
deal ... I've had my neck, eyes and hair "boosted") still has a remarkably
accentuated presence of relevancy. In other words, she's living proof
that a septuagenarian can still be sexy.
Spector began the set in a
flashy, but stylish, blue-green top before donning a Santa Claus coat with
fur trim for her first encore. She closed her brief 75 minute set in a black
top that had me wondering just how much additional musical excellence Ronnie
could have added to her scorecard had she not been essentially imprisoned by
the iron grip of Phil Spector. I loved seeing Ronnie growl on Ray Charles'
legendary "What'd I Say" while also serving up an excellent musical tribute
to Amy Winehouse.
Once again, a round of applause for Ron Onesti for bringing
in another evening of 24 karat gold memories. It was kick to see my old LOOP
buddy and current WGN host Wendy Snyder as the house lights went up. Wendy
admitted she was in tears throughout the show. Ronnie has that kind of
"affect." Her vocals are so singularly hers and hers alone, that you can't
help but feel she's actually singing just to you.
Ms. Spector, retirement
is out of the question. You have too many shows left, too many audiences to
please … but have your manager go to work on your supporting
Author: Chet Coppock - Laying It On The Line
Rating 3.5 out of 4 Stars.