Nellie McKay has been on my Top Ten Concerts to See list for a long while now. Homebody and I went to see her perform a couple nights ago at Neumos in Seattle. I was really looking forward to the show, but I must admit it was something of a let down. First of all, Neumos is not an appropriate venue for someone like Nellie McKay. She should be playing in a piano bar instead of a dive bar. It was hot in there and much of the audience was made up of the worst Seattle has to offer…inconsiderate jerks and raving Black Flag t-shirt wearing psychopaths.
You can blame a lot on the venue and the audience, but a performer on her game can usually overcome those setbacks. Unfortunately, Nellie had what I can only hope was an off night. Her piano playing was sloppy in places and she had trouble remembering her lyrics. It was actually kind of sad to watch. Here’s the best example I can remember from the evening. Someone requested “Ding-Dong”. Nellie got excited and said she’d play it. She started in on the song…only she started thumping her keyboard with her hands and making panting noises. That, of course, is the introduction to “The Dog Song”, not “Ding-Dong”. She’d already played “The Dog Song” earlier in the evening. She looked frustrated.
Nellie McKay had her moments of brilliance, especially on the playful “Pounce” and during a beautiful cover of an Antonio Carlos Jobim song called “Meditation”. Overall, though, this was a disappointing show.
As always, here’s the complete setlist typed out for your curiosity and convenience:
Main set: World Without Love (Peter & Gordon cover)/Toto Dies/Cupcake/Politan/Mother of Pearl/David/Pounce/Long & Lazy River/Vote for Mr. Rhythm (popularized by Ella Fitzgerald)/Old Enough/The Dog Song/Meditation (Antonio Carlos Jobim)/Sari/Feed the Birds (from Mary Poppins)/Tipperary/The Dog Song intro–>Ding Dong/Swept Away (a capella version to see if she could remember the words…she couldn’t)/Zombie/Won’t U Please B Nice