Most of the attention surrounding this release party for celebrity DJ Mark Ronson’s recorded debut, “Version” — the stateside debut of Ronson’s live band — was focused on the scene and what A-list names might be making it. That’s a shame, since the producer-mixmaster exhibited the sort of energy and good-natured party attitude that should’ve kept heads — and hips — focused in his direction.
Given the fact that this was the first time Ronson had performed publicly with the band, he did an admirable job of balancing interaction with the onstage musicians and striking the standard celeb DJ poses. The 30-year-old doesn’t subscribe to the style-over-substance theory of turntablism, sticking to simple grooves, recognizable riffs and songs culled from the classic hits bin, rather than the dusty crates favored by more hipster-oriented spinners.
He’s clearly not shy about sharing the spotlight, either, trotting out a series of guest vocalists to hold down center-stage for the lion’s share of the set. Relative unknown Daniel Meriwether made a big impression with an appropriately flamboyant take on the Smiths’ “Step me If You’ve Heard This One Before” that was retro-fitted with a passel of Motown references — a tweak that stretched the song a bit far, although it gave the singer ample room to strut his stuff.
Kenna, who’s mounting a comeback after disengaging himself from one-time mentor Fred Durst, rode Ronson’s rhythmic retooling of Ryan Adams’ “Amy” with a rodeo rider’s athleticism, while Phantom Planet frontman Alex Greenwald squeezed some sinister sensuality out of a rendition of Radiohead’s “Just.”
Ronson does have a limited number of tricks in his repertoire, and he’s unlikely to provide any eureka moments for listeners — but those seeking nothing but a good time can certainly find it under his umbrella.