Another Crazed Piano Pixie

4 October, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from work (at around 9:30pm), and they had an interview on NPR with this young musician, Nellie McKay. I thought the songs she played were seven different shades of brilliant, so I immediately downloaded the interview when I got home, as well as another concert she had recorded earlier in the year. The more I heard, the more I liked it, so I checked to see if she was playing in Boston anytime soon. And that’s how I ended up at the Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday night.

If you can use your imagination a bit, it might have been something like this…

Except without the cuss words blanked out. =P

It was a pretty nifty concert. She showed up on stage late, in a pink party dress that came straight out of 1958, and a chaotic jumble of songbooks and handwritten sheets of music with post-it notes sticking out of them. She alternated between singing, digging through her pile of music, and random monologues on such subjects as The Sylvia Plath Comedy Hour:

“Why don’t you have a statue of Sylvia, you know, with her head in the oven.”

Epitaphs she thought of while she was on the plane:

“Nelly McKay – She Still Never Met Kevin Eubanks”

“Nelly McKay – It Was A-Minor, Doofus!”

“Nelly McKay – I Hate Her More Than You Do”

And the burden of doing her songs the same way every time:

<stops short of the end of Happy Flowers> “No, I can’t do it. Why do I always end the song the same way? Why do I even tour? People only laugh because they know what’s coming. I’m sorry, I’m not going to do it. I’ll do it on another song. I’m sorry, people, I’m not going to play it. I’ll play something else.”

Overall, she was a tiny little creature with a huge voice, a nervous, jittery stage personality, and brilliant songs that infuse 40s jazz and swing with darkly biting humour. I dug it hardcore.


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