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Repeat After Me: I Will Not Miss Another Saturday Night Gig

November 19, 2013

On each of the last two Saturday nights I’ve missed a show that, after reading the reviews, I sorely regretted. Two weekends ago it was Kate Nash at Terminal 5; this past weekend it was Johnny Marr at Webster Hall. These British artists – one new, one old(er) – both fall into the category of artists that I’d like to see but I don’t quite have enough of a push to label them as can’t miss … up until I actually miss them. It’s then that I realize how much I like each of them and what a mistake I’ve made.

I discovered Kate Nash less than a year ago, first listening to her debut album Made of Bricks, then quickly picking up her two subsequent albums, My Best Friend is You and 2013’s Girl Talk. There has been a change in her sound from album to album, and while I’m not sure that change is for the better (Made of Bricks is still my favorite album) I appreciate her development as a musician. Her songs all come from a highly personal place, examining her relationships (usually with men) that is reminiscent of Taylor Swift, but she does it with an angst and sharp tongue wit that is far less Swift than Liz Phair.

According to this review, Nash opened her Terminal 5 show with one of my favorite songs from Girl Talk, the gentle “Lullaby for an Insomniac”. That was the beginning and end of all things gentle; after that it was off to the races, and off to change costumes (not for the last time). Nash played hit after hit – first later songs like “Death Proof,” “Kiss That Girl” and “the over-the-top performance of ‘OMYGOD'”; then the hits from her Made of Bricks, including the title song, “Mouthwash”and the excellent “Foundations”.

Nash then got interactive with her audience. First she invited a number of fans from the audience up on stage to dance around with her.  Then she had a number of them join her for a unified crowd surf. Nash then sat by the piano for the set closer and biggest crowd-pleaser “Merry Happy” for which she invited all the ladies in attendance to join her onstage. It may have been a girls’ night, but when a star like Nash puts on a display like that it’s something that this boy wishes he hadn’t missed.

As for Johnny Marr, Bree Roberts did a great job over at Brooklyn Vegan describing what sounds like a truly memorable show from the legendary guitarist and songwriter. As Roberts tells it:

Johnny was here tonight to promote his new album The Messenger. All the songs he played off that album were fantastic, including the title track, which is full of New Order-ish guitar driven melodies, singles “Upstarts” and “New Town Velocity” – which was lilting and lovely.

Response to the new songs was great — unlike some shows like this, people seemed to have actually listened to his new album — but the crowd got very excited for The Smiths songs (I won’t call them covers, because Johnny co-wrote them all) of which six were played, including “Panic,” “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” “Big Mouth Strikes Again” and, final song of the night, “There is A Light That Never Goes Out.” (There was a LOT of singing along.)

Stop. Right. There. Marr played six Smiths songs? That’s more than Morrissey ever plays at one of his solo gigs. And just in case you think that Marr on vocals fails to capture the brilliance of these songs, this video of Marr performing “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” on Jimmy Fallon proves otherwise.

It gets even better. Marr didn’t perform those songs alone; he was joined onstage by Andy Rourke, thus reuniting half of the Smiths for several songs. I’m a fan of Andy’s, and it’s this fact – that seeing 50% of the Smiths would be better than seeing no Smiths at all – that has me regretting missing the show.

Finally, take a look at the last three songs, by which time any Marr fan would have already been in ecstasy:

– I Fought the Law – A cover of the Clash.
– Getting Away with It – A cover of Marr’s band Electronic with Bernard Sumner from New Order and Neil Tennant from Pet Shop Boys
– There Is a Light That Never Goes Out – The final Smiths song.

This coming Saturday night, Sleigh Bells will be performing at Terminal 5. I won’t be making the same mistake again.

Some photos from the Kate Nash show can be found here.

Photos from the Johnny Marr show by Dana (distortion) Yavin are alongside the Brooklyn Vegan review. Several videos from the show are there as well.

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