Kiki & Herb

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (133 of them)
Those goddamn traitors haven't played NYC since they 'reunited.'

In contrast to gyps, I have the album but haven't even played the whole thing (maybe cuz I was at the show).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 14:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I was really disappointed with Kiki and Herb Will Die For You when I saw it in D.C. Cabaret is a tough thing to appreciate and get into, especially when it's transposed to a large setting -- although, to be fair, Kiki and Herb tour rock venues and play theaters almost exclusively. I suspect that what I saw may have been a truncated version of the Carnegie Hall show captured on the CD: we got a fitting rendition of "Forever Young," but no Wu-Tang Clan or "Lose Yourself" or Tom Jones or "Institutionalized." Bummer.

ng-unit, Wednesday, 7 December 2005 15:17 (twelve years ago) Permalink

BTW, they're in Chicago tomorrow night (Thursday) - $30 at Steppenwolf.

Eazy (Eazy), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 15:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I have low low tolerance for parody-lounge acts, considering that the real thing hasn't really existed since 1974. About as biting as mime parodies and jazz hands. That said, I'd like to hear or see K&H to see if they're more than that.

Eazy (Eazy), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 15:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Eazy, I'd bet real money I've got an even lower tolerance for parody-lounge acts. But Kiki & Herb ain't that. Or a drag show, for that matter.

They probably do do best in an intimate venue, though, where there's a real threat that Kiki might fuck with you.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 19:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Sounds like they just need to do a tour with the Frogs and then Western civilization can finally end.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 19:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Eazy, I can make you a copy of the album...

jaymc (jaymc), Wednesday, 7 December 2005 19:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Having seen them just now for the very first time, some random thoughts:

* 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?"


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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

lucky. fucking. bitch.

j blount (papa la bas), Sunday, 18 December 2005 09:35 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I shall not complain at my good fortune.

Ned at dali's place (donut), Sunday, 18 December 2005 16:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Nice write-up - makes me really want to see them!

TRG (TRG), Sunday, 18 December 2005 21:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i saw them play a secret show in new york (they billed themselves as a children's choir or something like that!) about two months ago. fucking incredible. it was also the most politically-charged show i saw all year.

geeta (geeta), Sunday, 18 December 2005 22:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It was kinda weird, on the one hand I appreciated all the explicit politicizing throughout the show in Seattle, on the other hand I was totally unsurprised by it. So I could appreciate Kiki's brilliantly bitter turns of phrase but the sentiments were telegraphed a mile away for a crowd not inclined to disagree. It meant that the musical mindfucks were the true WTF moments.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:09 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Well, there was the line that began the second line..

"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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Yes! I had totally forgotten that one. :-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(the second set.. sorry)

dali madison's nut (donut), Monday, 19 December 2005 07:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

SECRET SHOW in nyc?? :(

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 19 December 2005 16:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Kiki preaches to the choir, but she do preach well.

Kiki > Margaret Cho, f'rinstance.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Monday, 19 December 2005 18:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

of the three times I've seen them it was my least favorite, but it was still terrific. two sets for two hours total that feels like half that = you're doing it oh so right

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Monday, 19 December 2005 23:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

My daily commentary on life is absolutely peppered w/ K&H references and now that my Best Gay Friend has left NYC no one BUT NO ONE has any idea what I'm talking about.

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

dali is OTM about "if I were capable of love," easily the best thing said all night (out of lots of great things said)

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Wonder how he sold it to her.

"It's a comedy show, honey!"

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 01:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Worst. Date. EVER."

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Tuesday, 20 December 2005 01:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I am seeing them on New Year's Eve apparently (gratis). I'd never heard of them before, but this thread is making it sound promising.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 30 December 2005 20:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Alex: cool! please report back!

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I BET they played Elton John's bachelor party. Holy shit. When will that one hit Limewire? (Today? Please?)

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Friday, 30 December 2005 21:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

They're playing fourteen(!!) nights at the Sydney Opera House throughout February and early March.

dali madison's nut (donut), Saturday, 31 December 2005 18:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Saw them in Seattle. Great.

Freud Junior (Freud Junior), Saturday, 31 December 2005 20:52 (twelve 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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Kenny Melman of K+H in NYC at the Pub Jan 30.

Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Rumor has it he played Elton John's bachelor party!

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 18:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I heard that somewhere.

Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 19:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

hahaha, I don't always look more than 2 posts up.

Really, Elton John sets me even more against all marriage.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2006 21:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

six months pass...
As you can see, they begin a monthlong Broadway run on Aug. 11:

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 12 July 2006 20:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

(at $87.50, I may not be attending...)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 19 July 2006 13:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...
...however, after this rave in the Times, they may not have trouble filling it up.

Kiki & Herb’: The Road to Catharsis With Those 2 Immortals

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.

Alive 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 (eleven years ago) Permalink

TS: Peaches & Herb vs. Kiki Dee

Sir Dr. Rev. PappaWheelie Jr. II of The Third Kind (PappaWheelie 2), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 20:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Fabulous video for "Totoal Eclipse Of The Heart"

davidsim (davidsim), Friday, 13 October 2006 11:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
Playing 4 shows this month at Joe's Pub (all 11:30 shows on 'school nights,' ah, all the semi-employed fans will be back):

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 (eleven years ago) Permalink

you know, i liked their broadway show but i didn't love it quite like i expected to. not quite the best setting for them, really.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Thursday, 2 November 2006 17:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

That was my gamble in missing it...

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 2 November 2006 17:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

man, Kiki got drunk off her ass last night (my friend hadda grab her when she almost fell off a table). She read a lot of lyrics off a stand, following the example of a recent show by 94-year-old former Marx Brothers ingenue Kitty Carlisle. Best line of the night was "I may not know the words, ladies and gentlemen, but I understand the song." (Best anecdote to nowhere was about her sister's delight that Farrah Fawcett shares her malady of ass cancer.)

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 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
I'd like to renege on previous comments of "not getting it"; three shows in thirty days cured me of that. Truly, I've never seen a more punk-as-fuck show. Last watch was ringside about three feet away and my table mates and I got just BLASTED; watching K+H at that proximity is some serious dick-in-a-blender action.

Now I just have to figure out if it translates to record well...

Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Monday, 15 January 2007 19:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I've got both their records, and while it's a good way to introduce people to them (see anecdote above), it's not the same as the "oh shit, what's she going to do next?" experience of seeing them live.

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 (eleven years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
Kiki & Herb

May, 17 2007 at Knitting Factory - DVD RECORDING!
74 Leonard Street, New York, New York 10013
Cost : $20

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Directed by Jonathan Demme.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

that sounds entirely plausible, but... hmmm

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 10 May 2007 16:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

I might be lying. I might be remembering how much you loved his Robyn Hitchcock film.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 10 May 2007 17:02 (ten years ago) Permalink

for the first time in six months I genuinely wish I were in New York

Matos W.K., Thursday, 10 May 2007 21:30 (ten years ago) Permalink


poortheatre, Thursday, 10 May 2007 23:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

Kiki sez

"The neoliberals vs. the neofascists—I'm just happy that I've lived to see this spectacular bipolar moment."

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 1 May 2016 23:24 (one year ago) Permalink

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.