Kate Nash Debuts in Los Angeles
On the very day her Brit award nomination for British Female Solo Artist–right alongside the estimable PJ Harvey no less–was announced, Kate Nash played her first Los Angeles show. Tastefully decked out in toned down 60’s style–a modest belted dress, tights, bangs, smoky eyeliner–she took the stage to a recording of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which segued into a canned version of her album opener “Play.” All of twenty years old, on stage she has an ingratiating air about her and doesn’t strike as a precocious in the least. The crowd was obviously industry heavy, no sense in complaining about that in this town, but notably there are diehard fans (young girls, as one would expect) clinging to the stage and already singing along. Ah, the power of MySpace. Kate took to her be-draped keyboard and ran through a well-received set encompassing her full album. She hopped over to acoustic guitar for only a few numbers, which was for the best as, live, those down tempo tunes lacked the spark of her piano ditties.
While her professionally polished record has layers of texture, live the songs aren’t played with nearly as much nuance. As a result they don’t come off as well as one might hope. I don’t know if her three-piece backing band are made up of her mates or session hired guns, but they don’t do much for her tunes besides flesh them out in the crudest manor. The drummer in particular needs to be taken down a notch and told not to play as if he’s in Green Day. Frequently, he drowned her vocals out with his bashing. Only when she returned from the encore to perform solo at the piano, did we really get a clean taste of her singing, which, while still young and not quite robust yet, is impressive. She has an Eminem-like lingual dexterity when she weaves her rhymes in a melodic talk-sing patter.
In some superficial ways, Kate recalls Nellie McKay, the London-born/States-raised similarly preternaturally gifted singer-pianist with serious lyrical flow (and charming occasional potty mouth). Nellie, though, now three albums on, has not had the popular success that, while she might not be actively seeking, she absolutely deserves. (Get Away From Me, her double album debut released when she was 22 is well worth revisiting.) I don’t see the same fate for Kate, as she’s, in many ways, an easier package to deliver than Nellie and skews a bit younger in her targe demo I’d say. Kate is one radio hit away from reigning on TRL.
Nellie McKay @ Largo (w/ Paul F. Thompkins Comedy Show) Sat 1/26
Nellie McKay @ Largo Fri 2/1
Nellie McKay @ Largo Fri 2/8