Saturday, 15 May 2010

497 KAY HANLEY, A baton twirler (!), The New Theater, Harvard Square, Cambridge MA USA, Saturday 31 March 2001

Last day of this short sharp trip to Boston. I grab late lunch with Mike Paulo and Mark Kraus before chilling at the Jr. Corduroy recording sessions at the Longhouse in Allston. Then off to EdV's, watching the end of some weird campus film with Ed and Josh before Josh drops us off in Harvard, on his way out to a blues gig he's playing in Somerville. Ed and I head for a restored theater opposite Tower Records (whose name eludes me, hence "The New Theater") for quite the strangest gig venue! This is definitely "guest-list only" territory; even ligger-about-town James Horrigan has been unsuccessful getting on this list! Luckily I'm with one of the band, EdV being part of Kay's back line, so I get into this sumptuously renovated and decorated theater hall. Very posh indeed, and the clientele - the glitterati of Boston's art world, bedecked in evening ball gowns and black tie - reflects this. I'm feeling very scruffy in my black jeans and red velvet shirt!

The evening gets more surreal as we hit the first floor for the promised food, which turns out to be pasta aperitifs and crudités with dips, laid out for display and attended by monkey suited waiters with silver trays. I feel like I'm at a society wedding reception! Ed and I chat and people-watch until company arrives, in the shape of Creamer, Lucky Jackson and "The Peach" Pete Stone, bringing much-needed levity and sarcasm to the stuffed-shirt proceedings. Then Kay and hubby Michael show up, both apparently remembering me from the Letters To Cleo shows in London back in 1996! Michael confirms this by saying he delivered a "Wilson" t-shirt I'd given him at the Powerhaus show (gig 321!) to Dave Gibbs!

So, after a few self-congratulatory speeches from various dignitaries and key players in the re-opening of this theater, the support act comes on; a scantily clad baton twirler! Shurely shome mishtake? Nevertheless, she's not on for long - just long enough to drop one of her batons! Arf arf (sorry, schadenfreude's not polite).

Kay leads the band on at 10.15 for 10 songs oozing class and songcraft, played with just the right amount of deference and understatement for the occasion and the less than 10% interested crowd. Nevertheless, the quality of the material shines through, being poppier and more low-key than the brash upfront bounciness of former band Letters To Cleo, but still beautifully crafted and catchy. "Mean Streak" bounces along like a spacehopper, but "Galapagos" (which I was warned to look out for by "The Peach", this being his favourite ever Kay song) is slow-burning and heart-wrenchingly lovely, as melancholy as my mood, which itself prompts a few words of incisive wisdom from Mr. Stone which I'll never forget. All in all, though, Kay and her new band are in fine fettle, judging by this performance.

I then head off after the gig and a few "thanks", particularly to Kay and Michael for the cool show, Creamer for being my free ticket this trip, and EdV for once again being a true friend when I needed one most. T back, one sleep, then back to Blighty early the next morning, to cap another successful Boston trip!

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