― jaymc (jaymc), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 19:34 (ten years ago) Permalink
* Oh it was very very very great.
* THE CATTINESS from Kiki but I could go on. In great voice, Herb mighty fine, drinks and cigarettes, yay! Douglas very OTM upthread on the basics of the appeal and how it works out. The song about houses burning down at Christmas is my new favorite holiday number, whoever it's by.
* Quite a mellow date-heavy gay crowd -- uh duh, I realize. Much smooching in the row in front of us, plus the semi-Freddie Mercury-looking soccer fanatic I was chatting with during the break
* They indeed did their Mountain Goats cover "No Children." so brilliant. And "This Year" was playing during the mid-set break. AND an amazing version of Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" which was done so relatively seriously that some characters in the crowd couldn't take it and were breaking down in laughter towards the end of it. "Crucify" by Tori Amos and "This Woman's Work" also get airings.
* Medleys of choice (all of which confirm that they and the Squirrels are not that far removed):
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"/"Smells Like Teen Spirit"/"Suicide is Painless"/"Miss World"
"The Little Drummer Boy"/"Boys Don't Cry" (sung by Herb)
"Take Your Mama"/"When the Levee Breaks"/"When the Saints Come Marching In"/"The House of the Rising Sun"
and my jaw-dropping favorite:
"Forever Young" by Alphaville immediately into "If You Were Born Today" by Low, both delivered with a minimum of screaming histrionics (but not completely lacking in them, of course) and sounding desperately epically beautiful as a result
* Encore: so dali, Matos and I all hear this song with, it turns out, these lyrics:
They say it fades if you let it, love was made to forget it. I carved your name across my eyelids, you pray for rain I pray for blindness.
If you still want me, please forgive me, the crown of love has fallen from me. If you still want me, please forgive me, because the spark is not within me.
I snuffed it out before my mom walked in my bedroom.
The only thing that you keep changin’ is your name, my love keeps growin’ still the same, just like a cancer, and you won’t give me a straight answer!
If you still want me, please forgive me, the crown of love has fallen from me. If you still want me please forgive me because your hands are not upon me.
I shrugged them off before my mom walked in my bedroom.
The pains of love, and they keep growin’, in my heart there’s flowers growin’ on the grave of our old love, since you gave me a straight answer.
If you still want me, please forgive me, the crown of love is not upon me If you still want me, please forgive me, cause this crown is not within me. it’s not within me, it’s not within me.
You gotta be the one, you gotta be the way, your name is the only word that I can say
You gotta be the one, you gotta be the way, your name is the only word, the only word that I can say!
None of us immediately recognize it, the performance is absolutely excellent but the sheer awful awkwardness of some of the lyrics provokes laughter and we were thinking it was intentionally bad. Me to myself -- "Sounds like a My Chemical Romance lyric, has the dumb teenage angst down but the performance of the song makes it a lot better."
Afterwards in lobby with dali and Matos: "So I'm guessing what that song might be, maybe a My Chemical Romance song."
*various theories abound, a couple of Matos's friends join us*
Friend says something to Matos.
Matos: "It's an Arcade Fire song?"
Me: "THE ARCADE FIRE?!?"
The rest of the evening is partially spent in abuse from me in particular about how incredibly fucking lame the Arcade Fire is. But yes, Kiki and Herb made them sound good. Figures.
― Ned Raggett (donut), Sunday, 18 December 2005 08:00 (ten years ago) Permalink
― j blount (papa la bas), Sunday, 18 December 2005 09:35 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Ned at dali's place (donut), Sunday, 18 December 2005 16:30 (ten years ago) Permalink
― TRG (TRG), Sunday, 18 December 2005 21:30 (ten years ago) Permalink
― geeta (geeta), Sunday, 18 December 2005 22:28 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:09 (ten years ago) Permalink
"THANK YOU, Ladies and Gentlemen. If I could love, I would love you ALL! :D "
― dali madison's nut (donut), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:13 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:13 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 19 December 2005 16:11 (ten years ago) Permalink
Kiki > Margaret Cho, f'rinstance.
― rogermexico (rogermexico), Monday, 19 December 2005 18:31 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Monday, 19 December 2005 23:22 (ten years ago) Permalink
My sister and I once absolutely broke down and cried like a funeral when Kiki sang "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" by Stevie Nicks, and I just realized on Friday night (at the C@n@st@ show) that K&H's version of "Ground Control to Major Tom" is the only one I know. But sometimes she's better in recollection than in the moment of -- esp after the smoking ban there were times when I didn't quite know what to do with myself in the middle of their act. But OH the highs are simply the highest!
― Laurel (Laurel), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 00:03 (ten years ago) Permalink
overheard during intermission:Man on date: [brightly] What do you think?Woman on date: [not brightly] I don't like this. At all.[several amazingly awkward moments ensue]
― Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 01:13 (ten years ago) Permalink
"It's a comedy show, honey!"
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 01:14 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 01:16 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 30 December 2005 20:45 (ten years ago) Permalink
My wife just saw them last night and said they were great, and that the show adds a bit more to the Kiki mythology (continuing on from the "immortal cow"/"placenta-of-Jesus" story she's told at earlier Xmas shows). Also notable: they were originally supposed to play here in Portland earlier this month, but the show got postponed... because THEY WERE PLAYING ELTON JOHN'S BACHELOR PARTY. Wow.
― Douglas (Douglas), Friday, 30 December 2005 21:17 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Friday, 30 December 2005 21:19 (ten years ago) Permalink
― dali madison's nut (donut), Saturday, 31 December 2005 18:51 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Freud Junior (Freud Junior), Saturday, 31 December 2005 20:52 (ten years ago) Permalink
Hahahah, notably that wasn't mentioned in any of the stories I saw about that! Brilliant. No wonder they were making comments about gay marriage in Britain at the Seattle show.
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 31 December 2005 20:55 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:15 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:24 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 19:57 (ten years ago) Permalink
Really, Elton John sets me even more against all marriage.
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 21:41 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 20:03 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 19 July 2006 13:27 (ten years ago) Permalink
Kiki & Herb’: The Road to Catharsis With Those 2 Immortals By BEN BRANTLEY
That’s one gorgeous set of teardrops that the immortal Kiki DuRane is wearing for her mind-popping Broadway debut. Kiki, a molting songbird for all seasons, and Herb, her happily suffering shadow and accompanist, opened last night at the Helen Hayes Theater in “Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway,” a hyper-magnified cabaret concert that has the heat and dazzle of great balls of fire.
Actually, since this transcendental lounge act is fond of biblical imagery, make that great swords of fire — or, if you prefer, a burning bush.
But about those teardrops. Whenever Kiki tilts her face upward, toward her key light — and like any self-adoring goddess, she does that a lot — her eyes brim with the most brilliant pools of brine you have ever seen. Well, not to spoil the illusion, but those ain’t tears: they’re rhinestones (or something like), strategically glued just beneath her lower lashes.
It is a tribute to the perverse showbiz genius of Kiki and Herb that once you twig on to this shameless trompe l’oeil, you don’t feel merely amused. Nor do you think that the singer has been trading only in paper-moon emotions, or making fun of those who do, as she croons her whiskey-pickled way through bathetic ballads and angry anthems.
Those artificial tears are a comic grace note, sure, but they are also a totem for feelings of devastating depth and substance. And a performance that should, by rights, be just a night of imitative song and shtick from another pair of happy high-campers from the alternative club scene becomes irresistibly full-bodied art.
Fakery is often more real than reality in the glamorous and tawdry world of theater. I should probably state, for the uninitiated, that the ultrawomanly Kiki is channeled by a man named Justin Bond. Herb is the alter ego of a truly inspired pop musicologist named Kenny Mellman.
And while Kiki and Herb claim to be as old as the hills, Mr. Bond and Mr. Mellman are only in their 40’s and 30’s, respectively. The roadmaps of geriatric lines on their faces have been drawn with the blunt bogusness of children portraying grandparents in a school play. And by the way, Kiki and Herb now say the reason they didn’t die, as they had promised, after their farewell concert at Carnegie Hall in 2004 is that they can’t. The reasons are complicated, but let’s just say they involve their having been present at the birth of Jesus.
Believe it or not, that makes sense. In their decade as one of downtown’s savviest acts, Kiki and Herb have always traded on the reassuring illusion of immortality conferred by deeply stylish cabaret performers of advanced age.
You know, the kind you stumble upon after midnight, improbably drawing oxygen from smoky tunes and smoky rooms in bars found everywhere from the inns Ramada to the hotels Carlyle and Algonquin. When Kiki sings — and her numbers go from Eisenhower-era velvet (“Make Yourself Comfortable”) to punk-era tarpaper (the Cure’s “Let’s Go to Bed”) — she suggests some wondrous hybrid of Marianne Faithfull, Elaine Stritch, Patti Smith and Kitty Carlisle Hart. As with those very different women, the point is never the prettiness of the voice but the history behind it and the passion to endure that vibrates within.
There is also the vibrato (real or metaphoric) of suffering, that public overdose of private pain that made Judy Garland a figure of such religious adoration. The references to Jesus in Kiki’s spiels aren’t inappropriate, since Mr. Bond and Mr. Mellman appreciate the role of the self-lacerating performer who cathartically embodies the anguish of his audience. (“Kiki and Herb Will Die for You” is the title of their last CD, a recording of their Carnegie Hall concert.)
Between songs, Kiki describes her early history with an uncaring mother and abusive father (“I always said if you weren’t molested as a child, you must have been an ugly kid”); her childhood in a Pennsylvania orphanage, where she met Herb, a gay Jewish foundling; the seesaw career of high and low living, institutionalizations and shifting musical fashions; and the death of her little daughter, Coco, which Kiki describes while staring into the murky depths of her glass of Canadian Club.
Famous names are tossed into the swirling mix. Kiki danced in burlesque nightclubs with Maya Angelou; she and Herb were supposed to have performed the theme song for Mel Gibson’s Holocaust series on television until his arrest for drunk driving put an end to the project; world leaders (you can imagine which ones) are gutted, roasted and fried.
This sounds like regulation tacky countercultural standup, laced with the overemotional kitsch that drag queens borrow from old movies, right? That sensibility is certainly evoked by Scott Pask’s set — a bizarre sylvan landscape that suggests Salvador Dalí working in Las Vegas and includes a blasted tree that Kiki perches on to sing (and drink) — and Marc Happel’s Loretta Young-meets-Cher costumes.
But like most of the best artists of their generation, Mr. Bond and Mr. Mellman have tunneled under the ironic distance that seems to have been their birthright to reclaim the passion beneath the pose. The musical stylings of Herb (whose liquidly bobbing head and blissed-out expression suggest that his nervous system is located in the strings of his piano) and the vocals of Kiki are radioactive with an angry sorrow, ecstasy and cosmic fatigue so profound that it turns into cosmic punch-drunkenness. They use the surface of camp as a tool for detonating surfaces. (Bette Midler surprised and seduced audiences with just such a style as a singer at gay clubs 30-some years ago.)
It’s a musical approach that finds a common denominator in songs made famous by artists like Public Enemy (quaintly presented as an example of folk music) and the Scissors Sisters and sentimental narratives like “One Tin Soldier” and Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.” And who else would segue from the masochistic power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” into a musical setting of William Butler Yeats’s “Second Coming”?
If the idea of the end of the world keeps creeping into the show, that’s appropriate to these times, isn’t it? But Kiki and Herb have been around long enough to know that the threat of doomsday is old news and that life — dammit all — goes on.
At one point Kiki looks into the audience and wonders who on earth is out there. This is Broadway, after all, the place where tourists come from around the country with their families to be entertained. “Do any of you have a family?” she asks of the crowd and concludes that this must be an audience of foundlings.
Maybe. But remember that the subtitle of the show, which runs only through Sept. 10, is “Alive on Broadway,” not merely “Live.” Though they may disappear when the lights go down, and the makeup comes off, Kiki and Herb onstage are Alive with a capital A, with all the human vitality and fallibility that that implies. This is more than can be said for the synthetically enhanced automatons appearing in most Broadway musicals.
KIKI & HERBAlive on Broadway
Created and executed by Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman; sets by Scott Pask; lighting by Jeff Croiter; costumes by Marc Happel; sound by Brett Jarvis; general manager, Foster Entertainment; production management, Aurora Productions; production stage manager, Peter Hanson. Presented by David J. Foster, Jared Geller, Ruth Hendel, Jonathan Reinis Inc., Billy Zavelson, Jamie Cesa, Anne Strickland Squadron and Jennifer Manocherian in association with Gary Allen and Melvin Honowitz. At the Helen Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 239-6200. Through Sept. 10. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
WITH: Justin Bond (Kiki) and Kenny Mellman (Herb).
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 19:56 (ten years ago) Permalink
― Sir Dr. Rev. PappaWheelie Jr. II of The Third Kind (PappaWheelie 2), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 20:36 (ten years ago) Permalink
― davidsim (davidsim), Friday, 13 October 2006 11:30 (nine years ago) Permalink
I assumed they were gonna do Christmas stuff in Dec, burt don't see it yet. :p
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 2 November 2006 16:27 (nine years ago) Permalink
― gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Thursday, 2 November 2006 17:25 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 2 November 2006 17:53 (nine years ago) Permalink
Among the new (to me) adds to the repertoire:
The Indelicates - "Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die"
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 16 November 2006 14:36 (nine years ago) Permalink
Now I just have to figure out if it translates to record well...
― Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Monday, 15 January 2007 19:03 (nine years ago) Permalink
But I bet someday people are going to trade recordings of K&H live the way they do with Bill Hicks or Andy Kaufman recordings now.
― Douglas (Douglas), Monday, 15 January 2007 19:46 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:39 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:43 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:57 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 10 May 2007 17:02 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Matos W.K., Thursday, 10 May 2007 21:30 (nine years ago) Permalink
― poortheatre, Thursday, 10 May 2007 23:00 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius, Thursday, 17 May 2007 15:10 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 17 May 2007 15:15 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius, Thursday, 17 May 2007 15:23 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Catsupppppppppppppp dude 茄蕃, Thursday, 17 May 2007 17:46 (nine years ago) Permalink
― Dr Morbius, Thursday, 17 May 2007 19:10 (nine years ago) Permalink
― forksclovetofu, Thursday, 17 May 2007 21:44 (nine years ago) Permalink