...Just got back from The Pipettes show. I had a great time. We (my Compadre Ry and I) arrived about 6:45 or so and the place was just beginning to fill up. I'd never been to Diesel before, so it was a new thing for me. The venue is a smallish place, but the space available is well served. It was an all ages show, so alcohol was restricted to the upper balcony, which stretched along either side of the stage with the rear balcony reserved for the soundboards and such. We stayed on the floor. I believe you should always look up to a performer, not down on them. Symbolic, mebee so. So, I got a Sprite and Ry and I stood at the bar and watched the people file in. When we do stuff like this, I feel like I'm Tim Bisley and Ry is Daisy Stiener; the lead characters in the British TV show, "Spaced". We're both a bit older than the people who go to such concerts (and I'm a bit older than Ry), but our tastes are so very young at heart. I could conceivably see her pushing my wheelchair, and using it as a walker, to see some young upstart band in the far future. Just an observation. Back to the subject at hand.
First up was Monster Bobby. He is the Svengali of The Pipettes; the man behind the polka dots. He came out solo with a sequencer and guitar and began singing a tongue in cheek litany of songs, nearly all clocking in at about a minute long. It was the unholiest mash of folk and Kraftwerk, but I loved it. His sense of humor (humour?) was sharp and crotchety. At one point, he told the crowd, as politely as possible, to please refrain from clapping along as it throws him off. His British dry wit was welcome and set a nice tone for the evening. He even explained that his name meant "Large Member" in Scottish. I immediately thought of a Frankenstein's Monster clad in a British Police Officer's uniform.
The second act was Nicole Atkins and the Sea. She introduced herself and the band as that, but what I heard (old age creeping in, I guess) was The Kracken and the Sea. I thought maybe they liked "Clash Of The Titans" a little too much. Nicole Atkins was cute in a one piece, grey dress with a bib and skinny tie at the neck. The band looked like a jovial bunch of Rock -n- Roll miscreants.
Nicole Atkins and the Sea. She was wearing a bandoleer of bullets as a crown
but by the time I got the camera phone out, she had placed it on the mike stand.
When they started playing, though, I was speechless. It was the tightest band I'd heard in a long, long time. Then Nicole began to sing. I haven't been this impressed by someones voice since seeing LP live the first time. In fact she sounded a bit like both LP and Mazzy Star, leaning towards the former. Her songs were very pleasing to the ear, with echoes from the ghosts of pop music past popping up in each song. One song had wonderful ELO/Beatlesque minor chord counterpoint. Another song included a vocal riff from Ben E. King's"Spanish Harlem" and another song felt a Todd Rundgren vibe to it. Yet another song ended with a Sleigh Bell and Glockenspiel in a wonderful Brian Wilson inspired moment. About 4 songs into the set, I was smitten with Ms. Atkins. I found the palms of my hands were becoming sweaty. Crush time!
Towards the end of the set, members of The Pipettes' backing group, The Cassettes, descended upon the stage wearing full head masks of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Colin Powell and carrying rubber dart guns and military helmets. This was not expected, obviously, and was a wonderful unscripted moment for the evening that had everyone cracking up. Apparently, the two groups had been practical joking each other the entire run of the tour and this was the grand finale of it all, since Nicole Atkins and the Sea were playing their last tour date with The Pipettes that very evening.
The Set ended with a Patty Smith tune and I immediately made a bee line for the merchandise table to buy her CD. I wanted to beat the rush. She's amazing and I suggest you seek out her music. It's well worth it.
The Pipettes then began their set with a faux radio broadcast over the loudspeakers. They took the stage with "Dance and Boogie" a song that's on the album that I didn't remember hearing before. I told Ry that they opened with a new song! (Sorry, Ry, I just didn't recognise it at the time. Silly me.). They immediately went into "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me" with the obligatory finger wag dance.
can't capture live images so well.
Let me pause here for a moment to say some things about The Pipettes. First of all, I retract what I wrote in the last post about these girls. That is, I said they weren't astounding. Maybe astounding is still a hefty word, but I will tell you this is the best I've ever heard them sound. This was my first time seeing them live and in person. Every other time, I'd seen them on television programs and on live boot CDs. I am pleased to say that they are meant to be seen live and they sounded brilliant. Their energy is off the chart, too. Every song, they change the line up, so everyone gets a good look at all of the girls. I also have to say something about my taste in women. It's no secret I LOOOOOOVE women. To a fault, I do. I fell for Nicole Atkins 4 songs in. Well, when I first began listening to The Pipettes, I was all about Rosay (the brunette with lips like Marianne Faithful) and then, after the "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me" and "Pull Shapes" videos, I changed my mind and was all about Gwenno. I even pouted a bit that I was on the wrong side because Gwenno usually stood on the other side and I wanted to get a good look at her. Well, Rosay did come out on my side and I immediately became all about Rosay again (I swear she looked directly at me and gave me that crooked little sexy smile. Yeah, I know. Onstage, the audience is just a blur of colors. I've been there, I've seen it... But dammit, let me have my fantasy!). It became all about Rosay so much so, that when she did change places with Gwenno, I found myself looking to the other side of the stage for Rosay. Damn my fickleness. 'Course, when they first appeared, I exclaimed, "Aw! Gwenno dyed her hair!" as she went from a blonde to a redhead. I don't think that had anything to do with it, though.
Rosay sings "Why Did You Stay?". Yeah, blurry again. Damn cell phone.
I digress. They played their entire "We Are The Pipettes" album along with the EP only "Guess Who Ran Off With The Milkman" and "Really That Bad". They drank some complimentary Whiskey shots onstage (and complained about the quality, LOL) and even played with some audience members up front. They instructed the audience on the dance moves needed for "Pull Shapes" and encouraged us to all clap along to the music (I looked at Monster Bobby, he didn't seem fazed).
Getting back to the girls themselves, they all wore polka dot clothes, each with their own flavor (flavour?) and up close, the outfits looked like they were hand made, which was impressive. All three were in fine voice with Rosay being the greatest surprise. In most of the music videos, she looks like she's just a support voice, but in concert, she carries a lot of the lead vocals and plays keyboard on a lot of the songs, too. Far from being the Irlene Mandrell of the group, Rosay was revealed to me to be the heart, soul and backbone of the group. RiotBecky seemed to be the glue of the group, however. She ran about the stage the most of the three and I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't the originator of the dance routines for the group. Gwenno.... well, Gwenno is the beauty of the group. She's stunningly gorgeous and has a wonderful soprano voice that tops the harmonies like a cherry on dessert. All in all, their energetic performances, infectious personalities and lovely harmonies made everyone in the audience very happy. They encored with "ABC" and "We Are The Pipettes" and then, poof, they vanished up the stairs and away.
camera phone totally "Jacob's Ladder"s her face.
What was next is kind of different for me. I usually find a way to meet the band, especially if they're from another country. Yeah, I'm a groupie, but singers and musicians fascinate me. I love hanging out and talking about music and such. It's probably because my dad was a Singer and Bass Player. I didn't do that tonight, though. Maybe I should have, but I felt like, I'll probably see them again sometime. I also a was a bit intimidated to meet three lovely British girls. I'm very shy when it comes to meeting people I admire. Strange. An autograph and a personal pic would've been nice, though. Mebee someday.
I had a most excellent time and I would see both groups again at the drop of a hat. Thanks Compadre Ry, for accompanying me. I had a gear time!
UPDATE 11/21/07!!! I've seen Nicole Atkins before and it never registered!
She was on Letterman on October 30th:
And she's on this American Express commercial:
I saw both of these and it never registered. Wow. It's cool though, 'cause now I'm fully tuned in... and so are you! Dig!
Update 11/28/07: I wasn't wrong after all about "Dance and Boogie" being a new track. The original UK pressing of "We Are The Pipettes" has 14 tracks, while the US pressing that came almost a year later has 16. The last two tracks on the US version were added especially for that release. Those songs are "Baby, Just Be Yourself" and "Dance and Boogie". While I did buy the US release just to support the lasses, I still only listen to he UK relese regularly. That's the reason I didn't recognise "Dance and Boogie" when The Pipettes opened their set with it. So, it was a new track after all... at least to old fans!