London WC2 Astoria

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[B]Ronnie Spector[/B] simply exudes stiletto-shod bad-girl cool...

There’s an art to being larger-than-life, and [a]Ronnie Spector[/a]’s got it perfected. She may be diminutive, but when she sweeps onstage – all big hair, black velvet and cleavage – the magnitude of her history makes her movie-size. She knows it, too, blowing kittenish kisses and warmly rasping, “Ooh, I love you” to the crowd before reminding us that her next song, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ was written specially for her by [a]Brian Wilson[/a].

Crooner in seminal ’60s girl-group THE RONETTES, ex-wife of PHIL SPECTOR, this is the lady whose shoowop and shimmy have inspired legions of female musicians from DEBBIE HARRY to KENICKIE. Now – newly signed to Creation Records – she’s back to show us how it’s really done.

Backing band lurking in her shadow, she roars through the classics – ‘Best Part Of Breaking Up’, ‘Be My Baby’ – and the ‘new’ material – JOHNNY THUNDERS‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’, THE RAMONES‘She Talks To Rainbows’ – with glorious, cigarette-sultry aplomb.

Even when a true giant appears at her side – which we know from the Cousin It hair to be JOEY RAMONE – he’s upstaged, and poor, weedy-voiced BETH ORTON, who clambers on for ‘I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine’, doesn’t stand a chance. Who would? Ronnie Spector simply exudes stiletto-shod bad-girl cool. Listen and learn, SPICE GIRLS, listen and learn.