Superstar music producer Mark Ronson graced the Savoy Hotel in London with his infectious selection of hits last night (24 October) as part of Mastercard's exclusive Priceless Surprises gigs. Almost two years after the release of his chart-topping fourth album, Uptown Special, Ronson revisited some old favourites while giving his new material space to breathe.
Mastercard have found a winning formula with their intimate concert series, which launched with Ellie Goulding in September. Whether it is the converted church of One Marylebone or the swanky settings of The Savoy, the gigs fulfil their aim of providing small audiences with highly personal shows.
IBTimes UK were in attendance for Ronson's headline set which got the crowd funking on a Monday night.
After the slog of a typically dreary Monday, the last thing most people would want to do is to attend an energetic gig in central London. But how can you turn down the invite when the headliner in question is talented DJ and producer Mark Ronson? The answer is, you would be a fool to do so - because Ronson brought the party, and more.
With his catalogue of funk-inspired numbers and dancefloor fillers, the idea of too-cool-for-school Ronson performing a gig in a chandelier-lit room at the luxurious Savoy Hotel seems unlikely. Surprisingly – excuse the pun – the juxtaposition of these two elements at last night's #PricelessSurprises show worked perfectly.
It is hard to believe that even with his expansive and ever-growing connections in the music industry, coupled with the recent huge success of his Uptown Funk single, Mark Ronson comes across just as unassuming as he did when he first emerged in 2003. In fact, while revisiting his debut single Ooh Wee, which originally featured Ghostface Killah and Nate Dogg, Ronson seemed to revert back to that creatively-hungry newbie he was when the song was released 13 years ago, his passion unabated.
At first, Ronson struggled slightly to get into the flow, with the first couple of songs stopping abruptly rather than mix seamlessly to the next. Fortunately, it did not take long for Ronson to find his footing, and from then on the set was near-faultless.
Ronson took us on a trip down memory lane with his former notable hits, including Stop Me and his 2010 fan-favourite Bang Bang Bang, for which he was joined by female vocalist MNDR. It would not be a Priceless Surprises gig if Ronson didn't deliver at least one treat for fans so, for an added touch of nostalgia, he brought his long-time collaborator Lily Allen on stage as a special guest.
Listen to Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk:
After launching into their 2006 track Littlest Things, Allen revealed her jitters, telling the audience: "Sorry, I haven't played anything for about a year, so I'm nervous." Even with one jamming behind the decks and the other at the front of the stage, the special relationship between Allen and Ronson was obvious.
The producer warmly described the pop star as his "little sister" who "gave me a big break and became queen of music and then the Internet". Despite her nerves, Allen did a stellar job on her old cuts, which included her cover of Kaiser Chief's Oh My God, while she sounded back to her best after the Sheezus blip on a brand new reggae-tinged track which she and Ronson recorded just last week.
When he was not supported by his leading ladies, Ronson shone on his own with his most famous numbers. Surprisingly, Uptown Funk was positioned bang in the middle of the set list but bookmarked by tributes to funk and hip hop, it was certainly not out of place. The small, mirror-lined room at The Savoy descended into fun-filled chaos with drinks splashing in the air as though at an outdoor festival.
The unique aspect of Ronson's artistry is that his production catalogue transcends genres – one minute he is thrashing out the 1980s-inspired hip hop beats of Ooh Wee, the next he is stripping the vibe back with the indie sounds of Miike Snow's Andrew Wyatt. It is always a pleasure to hear Wyatt's tantalisingly crisp vocals, although this down-tempo section of the show lasted perhaps two songs too long.
Of course, Ronson injected life back into the set once again with his and Amy Winehouse's 2007 classic, Valerie. It sealed the night off perfectly, and it would have been wrong for Ronson to close the show with anything else.