Thursday, July 01, 2004

She's My Clonie

  • concert review: Nellie Mckay w/ Jill Barber @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), June 30, 2004

    Nellie Mckay @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, ON) June 30, 2004: photo taken by Mike LigonI'll forgo the "Whoa! Nellie" captions. [God knows how many articles about the wonderful Nellie Mckay have used that title]. However apropo that title might be, there's so much other things I can say about her. Talented. Quirky. Creative. Funny. Charming. Honest. Edgy. Modest. Thoughtful. Political. Attractive. [ok I had to slip that one in. ;-) ]

    A last minute decision had me scooting down to Lee's Palace in Toronto to catch the Nellie Mckay show with local opener Jill Barber. I only caught the last two songs of Jill Barber's performance. The last song in particular was pretty. Based on two songs, I'm not sure I'm convinced she adds anything unique to the female singer-songwriter vocals-acoustic-guitar genre but I really liked that last song. The crowd, however subdued during her performance, gave her an appreciative response. I'll likely track down her CD in the future [she was selling CD's yesterday, but by the time I got to the merch table they had already packed up, and I didn't bother asking anyone since Nellie was preparing to sign autographs at the table.]

    Nellie is full of contradictions. Nellie Mckay's young age[I think she's 19 years old] constantly comes up in the press, but it's funny that when she made her entrance onto the dimly lit stage at Lee's Palace, dressed in what I believe was a Chinese-style red dress, with her blond hair casually pinned up, she came off more womanly and wordly than I would have ever expected. Further, her stage presence was so natural that it felt like she was an old soul that had be performing for much longer than the 2 years or so she's likely been performing these songs. Nellie performed songs off her debut "Get Away From Me" including favourites like the "The Dog Song", "Sari", "I Wanna Get Married", and, during one of the encores, "David". There was a hushness amongst the audience, especially during the quiter songs, which I don't think I've EVER experienced before. For once, the WHOLE audience was attentive and refrained from talking during the set. It was a beautiful thing. However quirky her lyrics might be, I'm still off-put when people laugh constantly. For example, the song "I Wanna Get Married" is full of references to Leave It To Beaver, The Brady Bunch, Danielle Steele, and women being housewives, and I can see the bite that Nellie's trying to take out of the issue of women(and specifically housewives) as subservient beings, but the song had such a lovely hush melody, that I found laughing out loud somewhat inappropriate. I can forgive a chuckle here and there, and I am more inclined to smile than anything else, but she's not Weird Al. I hope people don't take her as a novelty act because she's far from it.

    Nellie brought our her great falsetto on a song about gay marriage. She was also willing to take chances(and maybe make mistakes like forgetting lyrics) on songs she hadn't performed in months. Nellie made reference that at least she didn't use a teleprompter like Lou Reed. :-) Another hightlight of the night included the audience sing-along at the end of the night when she divided the audience into 3 sections and attempted to get us harmonizing vocal arrangements. I'm glad I was in the third section because the second section vocal arrangement was a little bit out of my range [not that I'm a great singer to begin with]. On the whole, the audience got into singing their parts, at least for a minute or two, before the whole thing collapsed, due in part to Nellie complicating things by getting us to do certain physical movements/dance steps like 'wiping a tear from our eye' and rythmically stomping our feet. :-) Oh well, the whole thing went to shit, but it was fun!

    Nellie mentioned during that night that she just played Carnegie Hall. She's a class act and she'll probably move on from bars to bigger venues in the future, so I'm glad to have seen her in a small venue.[check out my photos.]

  • Happy Canada Day! No big plans, but I may go see The New Deal at Nathan Phillips Square tonight. We'll see.

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