Amy Winehouse was truly on the next level in her prime, as seen in her smouldering live cut of “Back to Black” in 2006. The songstress sang her signature tune on a stormy night at the 85 capacity St James’ Church in remote south-west Irish town Dingle, making for an unforgettable evening.
The performance showcases Winehouse at the peak of her powers, and The London Times named it as the 17th best live show of all time. The soul icon performs the songs in a stripped back format, singing with only an electric guitar and bassist as accompaniment. Check out the video for yourself below, which has attracted 31.6 million views.
Winehouse sang “Back to Black” for the Other Voices festival in December 2006, which was just two months after her second studio album of the same name was released. She is in blistering form, singing in her distinctive style that many singers have tried, but never quite managed to imitate.
Winehouse’s singing is simultaneously strident and vulnerable, and the show displays how strong and powerful her voice was at her best. The band are in cracking form as well, as it’s incredibly difficult to create a full sound with just two instruments, and no percussion to work with, but the two cats lay down a slithering groove that is the perfect counterpoint to Winehouse’s vocals. Another popular cut from the same gig is the ballad “Love Is A Losing Game”, which you can check out below.
Saint James is a 200-year-old church that hosts the annual Other Voices festival, which has welcomed big names such as Ellie Goulding, Elbow, Snow Patrol and Damien Rice. However, it’s Winehouse’s 20-minute set that has gone down in music history. The set was originally intended to feature a four-piece line up, but their drummer was held up by bad weather. The band soldiered on a man down and boy are music fans glad they did. The unique performance was fortunately captured for posterity on the Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle documentary.
December 2006 was quite a big moment in Winehouse’s career, as the singles from her recently released second album were tearing up the charts. Winehouse had created quite a buzz with her debut album Frank, which went three-times Platinum in the UK, but that was nothing compared to the storm that was brewing for Back to Black, which eventually went 14-times Platinum. In addition to picking up a host of awards, the release also became the second-highest-selling album in the 21st century in the UK, behind Adele’s 18-times Platinum album 21.
Tragically, Back to Black would also become Winehouse’s epitaph, as she never released a follow-up prior to her death in July 2011. It seems that the incredible heights her career reached, and the accompanying pressure and public scrutiny, contributed to her demons. As a result her final years were marked by a series of substance-addled performances and a stalled recording career.