Nellie McKay @ Neumos (8/14/08)

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

Encore: Food

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24 Responses to Nellie McKay @ Neumos (8/14/08)

  1. adrienneg says:

    I agree — the show was disappointing. I was right by the stage and could barely hear her sing because of the loud obnoxious people talking and breaking bottles.

  2. homebody says:

    I'm really glad you introduced me to Nellie's music. It's too bad the show was disappointing. (We really should have kidnapped her and fed her a decent dinner beforehand.)

  3. kitty says:

    As venues go, I don't much like Neumo's… and as crowds go, Seattle somehow seems to have the worst audiences. They either just stand there, arms crossed and scowling, or they ignore the performers altogether and talk loudly throughout.

  4. M-----l says:

    We started out up front, but an obnoxious jerk (he of the Black Flag t-shirt) rushed up near the beginning of the show and ruined the vibe. We stopped by the railing over near the merch stand, but the hipsters running the stand were being way too loud. We ended up near the back of the venue.

  5. M-----l says:

    The show was disappointing, but I'm still glad we went. "Pounce" and "Cupcake" were both fun and I thought she did a good job with the covers.
    And it's hard to argue with that fancy red flapper dress.
    (By the way, kidnapping is against the law.)

  6. M-----l says:

    I liked that Neumo's had free water at the bar, but that was the only positive thing I noticed about the venue. I guess it wouldn't be a terrible place for a real rock show, but a Nellie McKay show there seemed ill-advised. Mostly, I think I objected to having to stand through the entire concert with a bunch of chit-chatters. I'm too old for that.

  7. homebody says:

    That was a very fine flapper dress indeed.
    If the all-ages balcony had been open, we could have enjoyed the free water from a better-ventilated area with seating and a decent view from above.
    You have omitted the other positive characteristic of Neumo's: it is a mere five blocks from my place.

  8. M-----l says:

    Yeah, it was frustrating that all those prime spots up on the balcony went unused. If I can't sit at a concert, then I like to lean and look down onto the show from above. That's how I always do it at the Southgate House.
    And yes, the convenience factor shouldn't be ignored. A five minute walk can make up for a lot of venue problems.

  9. Sorry the show was not great. I have only been to this venue once, a few years ago to see Guided By Voices. I also agree with Kitty, Seattle audiences tend to be a bit rude. We have gone down to Portland to see shows and they are delightful! Seriously, in between songs you could hear a pen drop (not a pin, you could not hear that)

  10. M-----l says:

    So you could hear a pen drop, but not a pin. That sounds about right to me. It would get eerie if you could hear a pin. Too quiet.
    Guided By Voices were from Dayton, which is just about 45 minutes from where I live. I saw them once at the Southgate House. Robert Pollard threw unopened cans of beer into the audience…overhand. The show ended with about 45 people up on a tiny stage dancing around. Needless to say, I was not one of those 45. I do not dance.

  11. Haha! My friend Brian would TOTALLY be one of the 45. He is a super fanatic GBV fan. We saw them on their farewell tour, Bob Pollard has more energy that I think I ever had. I bet he was the kid in the classroom who would never sit still. Haha!

  12. homebody says:

    You do, too, dance — I've got pictures! (Lavender, I believe you were with us when I took those pictures.)

  13. There was Dancing? I don't remember! Maybe you should post that picture so I can remember! 😀

  14. homebody says:

    If permission is granted from the subject, they will eventually make it to Flickr. (Hint: there were flies involved! That's all I'd better say about it for now. 😉

  15. Ah! Yes! I still need a reminder, go ahead and post it, he said it was fine. ;-)Post it BIG so I can see it well. 😉 haha!

  16. M-----l says:

    I officially deny permission to post that picture. I wasn't dancing anyway…I was trying to escape the flies that live outside Homebody Manor.

  17. give homebody back her laptop! we were having fun! she was about to post a nice picture of you shakin' what your Momma gave you! 😉

  18. homebody says:

    I finally wrestled the laptop out of his postin' hands to answer this. I've been threatened with a photo I don't want seeing the light of day, so I'll have to let it drop at least until he forgets and I can bury it on Flickr and send you a direct link. (The superfly dance is really charming — as are you and Mr. Lavender in front of the fountain!)

  19. crankypants says:

    aw, sorry it was a crappy show. She deserves a much better venue than what you described. I saw her a few years ago, after the first album, so I am thinking like 2003 (before the last election) maybe and she was fantastic. Really funny, played well, very chatty and blathery which is her charm, and she called Craig Kilborn an asshole, so yeah, it was great.

  20. M-----l says:

    I'm not sure who Craig Kilborn is, but if Nellie McKay thinks he's an asshole, then I think so too. I am very open to suggestion.

  21. crankypants says:

    Remember the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, before Craig Ferguson? that tall blond asshole?

  22. I can't wait to not see it! *wink* haha!

  23. M-----l says:

    I'm a Conan watcher. I'm not sure who's on the other stations that late. I'll just take your word for it.

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