With a knack for crafting music that sounds simultaneously retro and progressive, Mark Ronson was a smart booking to usher in a new, unpredictable decade, a transatlantic polymath with a slick repertoire of bona fide dancefloor hits, a genre-spanning palette of sounds and an absurdly attuned instinct for getting a party started.
Mark Ronson’s Hogmanay in the Gardens, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh ****
As a producer, Ronson has built his reputation on his choice of collaborators, and he inherited a warmed-up reception from his support acts in Edinburgh. Glasgow sound system Mungo’s Hi-Fi offered dub and reggae inflections on established dance hits, with a slow, skanking stroll through Stevie Wonder’s Superstition via Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil, throwing the likes of The Cure and The Verve into the background as they built up to the resounding woop woops of KRS-One’s Sound of da Police.
Notwithstanding trumpeter Mark Crown’s contribution, Rudimental’s Leon “Locksmith” Rolle kept things more straightforward with his DJ set, largely eschewing his band’s drum and bass signatures for predictable dancefloor hits like Gala’s Freed From Desire and House of Pain’s Jump Around. Obviously enjoying himself, the muscular fitness enthusiast attracted hoots of incredulity for stripping his top off and cavorting semi-naked, having capably energised the audience for the main event.
Slinking out virtually unnoticed behind his piano, Ronson opened with the smoky, atmospheric Late Night Feelings, his collaboration with the Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li, here swelled with the backing of a swooning 12-piece string orchestra comprised exclusively of women. Given his current propensity for “sad bangers” and female singers, with the Miley Cyrus cut Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, all aching country melancholy and infectious disco bassline, the night’s unquestioned highlight, Daniel Merriweather’s appearance in the unannounced guest vocal spot could only be a slight disappointment. Somehow, the Australian’s blue eyed soul rework of The Smiths’ singular Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before has been rendered MOR with familiarity and Ronson’s radio-friendly formula, even with its segue into Set Me Free. That said, the singer brought some personal angst to the addiction saga of Lady Gaga’s Shallow, elevating it above a cover.
Through the bells, Ronson mashed up his favourite tunes of the 2010s, including a taster of his own chart juggernaut Uptown Funk, which he reprised in full straight after, before a solid DJ set, ultimately returning to the piano for a little Amy Winehouse tribute with Valerie. Jay Richardson