By: Paulanne Simmons
June 1, 2019: English superstar Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27. In honor of her memory and her own charitable endeavors, her family established the Amy Winehouse Foundations to help organizations that work with at-risk young people and their families. What’s more, the organization works to inform young people of the dangers of drug abuse and help those who are being rehabilitated. On May 29 and 30, Amy’s Father, Mitch, and Alexis Fishman appeared in a joint program at City Winery to benefit the foundation.
Having released his first album, “Rush of Love,” while Amy was still alive, Mitch Winehouse has pursued a singing career since his daughter’s death. At City Winery, his repertoire was an eclectic mix, from Johnny Mercer’s jazz standard “Something’s Gotta Give” to Major Harris’s soul classic “Love Won’t Let Me Wait.”
Fishman performed her tribute show, “Amy Winehouse: Resurrected.” Crowned with Winehouse’s signature beehive, clad in tutu and bustier, standing on spike heels, and adorned with Cleopatra makeup and tattoos, Fishman brought back Amy in all her foul-mouthed brilliance.
The conceit is that Amy has heard her idol, Tony Bennet, really wants to record with her again. Amy doesn’t know what time it is (she wasn’t wearing a watch when she died) or where to find Bennet, but she’s hoping he will find her.
After acknowledging “It’s nice to be back in front of a live audience,” Amy has a lot to say about stars who have followed her into the afterlife (Prince gets special treatment as a Jehovah’s Witness) and those who remain on earth (she’s not happy with Jay-Z’s remix of “Rehab”).
She also talks about her husband, Blake, who took up with his old girlfriend after getting out of prison, her indulgent mother and her father, whose love and taste in music was such a huge influence on her career.
Fishman portrays Winehouse as both defiant (“I didn’t put up with nobody’s bullshit”) and vulnerable (“I needed my hair so when I looked in the mirror I wouldn’t see myself”). She is most at peace onstage.
But it’s when Fishman sings Amy Winehouse’s songs that the talented and tortured performer comes to life. Backed by an 8-piece band and two singers, Fishman performs many of Winehouse’s biggest hits: ”Amy, Amy, Amy,” “Me and Mr. Jones,” “Back to Black,” “Stronger Than Me,” with a voice that’s as big and brassy as, no doubt, Amy would have wanted.
Throughout the show, Fishman, as Amy, teases the audience about what’s real and what is not. Is that vodka or water she’s drinking? Is she joking or dead serious? But at the end of her performance, in a moment of total disclosure, Fishman takes off that wig and listens with the audience to Winehouse and Bennet’s recording of “Body and Soul.”
Probably not much could follow that but a reuniting of father and daughter, as Alexis and Mitch perform two of Amy’s favorites, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”
City Winery is located at 155 Varick Street, www.citywinery.com.