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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

A night with Mark Ronson in Kingston

"This is cool, I like this vibe for a Monday night."

Mark Ronson is enjoying himself; dressed in a grey sweater, the superstar producer is behind the decks at Kingston's Pryzm nightclub - that's Oceana to many of us - overseeing a party to mark the launch of his new album.

The album itself, Late Night Feelings, is set to drop on Friday. It is full of what the 43-year-old told a GQ interviewer are "sad bangers" and looks to make the most of the success Ronson is still riding in the wake of 2015's mega-smash Uptown Funk with Bruno Mars. That song, the biggest of the year and one which still got the best reaction of the night in Kingston, revived Ronson as the champion of funk after the soul sound which he masterminded with the late Amy Winehouse was copied and redone into oblivion in the first decade of the 21st century.

But up on stage in Kingston, bringing a flavour of his famous Club Heartbreak to South London, Ronson looks relaxed. It has been a long day, just a couple of hours before he walked out on stage at Pryzm he was chatting to BBC Radio 1's Annie Mac as he debuted another of the new album's tracks as her Hottest Record in the World.

The debuts come thick and fast. Among a stream of hits, most but not all of them his own, Ronson drops a few taster pieces from Late Night Feelings. As is often the case at such events, a new tune brings about a change in atmosphere in the club. People who were moments ago dancing to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys's Empire State of Mind are now stood more sedately listening to the new offerings from a man who has been attached to an inordinate number of Top 10 hits over the last two decades.

Among the stable of Ronson tunes, and there have been lots, are Bruno Mars' aforementioned Uptown Funk (his most successful track to date), Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, Shallow from the film A Star Is Born, and Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, featuring Miley Cyrus.

As a musician who first garnered attention with his genre-hopping DJ sets in New York in the 1990s, it is no surprise to see the variety of fans Ronson has drawn into Kingston for this party. Granted a Monday night club night, with the lead act appearing at 10.30pm, will make the event off limits for some, but by the time Ronson took the stage at Pryzm, the dance floor was full.

The front line is peppered with members of that current live music phenomenon, who spend the whole gig stood stoic against the guard rail recording proceedings on a phone or camera - presumably such that they can one day relive an event they hardly experienced at the time. Around them is a throng which ranges from young professionals and middle-aged music lovers to beer-charged students. There is even a couple of Mark Ronson superfans, including the guy just a metre from the front dressed as Ronson in full leopard print shirt and pink tuxedo jacket.

The night itself is courtesy of Kingston's independent record store Banquet Records, which hosts a number of similar events. Last week Jamie Cullum celebrated the launch of his new album at Pryzm and there are rumours going round the dancefloor of a future appearance by Andre 3000. With most people picking up a ticket and a copy of the album for less than £20, this is pop music made accessible to the masses.

But a varied crowd does not phase Ronson, who shifts seamlessly from hit to hit, genre to genre and old classics to brand new tunes, bringing the vibe and the crowd from calm, foot-tapping reflection, to a jumping, clapping climax as they chant along to Uptown Funk.

There is very little chance you have not heard of Ronson, and even less that you have never heard one of his songs, but to see him live is to capture the essence of what the man himself aptly sums up as "cool".


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