In spite of my scathing opinion of Kate Nash's sophomore album, I was pulled like fish to a chip to the El Rey Theatre where the 22 year old Brit delivered a redeeming performance that made me remember why I liked her in the first place. Hold your horses for a second though because it's important for you to know about the opening act before I can recap the highlights of Kate Nash's portion of the show. She would want it that way, based on her overt attachments to the trio of 15/13 year old girls, called SUPERCUTE!, who emerged dressed in the height of kitsch. For a moment, it was difficult to remind myself that I was not, in fact, at a junior high talent show. But the girls that Kate Nash declared as "the next Supremes" will win you over with their banter and general sweetness. You'd have to be a monster to deride them. And I'm not quite at monster status just yet.
The girls from SUPERCUTE! were introduced by Kate Nash herself (still in the process of getting ready as illustrated by her très casual, oversized Nirvana t-shirt). After singing tracks that included "Candy City," "Pigeons," "Not to Write About Boys," and a Pink Floyd cover, SUPERCUTE! exited, but not before a little earnest self-promotion (five-dollar CDs and accessories designed by the band members).
After about thirty more minutes, Nash finally made her entrance, opening the show with the same song that opens the My Best Friend Is You album, "Paris." During the autobiographical song, Nash, with her precision bangs and heavily applied dark blue eye shadow, sat before a piano that read: "A Cunt is a Useful Thing." Eh, I guess. If you're using it to get money. Or piss. Fine, it is useful. Then, instead of saving her current hit single for later, Nash jumped into "Do-Wah-Doo" to keep the audience's energy at its pinnacle.
Just when you thought Kate wasn't going to acknowledge the existence of her previous album, Made of Bricks, she happily sang "Mouthwash," one of the strongest singles Nash has released during her brief career. But the deference to her debut was short-lived as she sauntered to the left side of the stage, picked up a guitar, and sang another new track from My Best Friend Is You, "Kiss That Grrrl." After, she explained that, while in Toronto she sprained her ankle and, while in Chicago, a person crowd-surfed onstage, but that she didn't want to remember either of those places as being the wildest city on tour. And so, she encouraged the audience to give in to being as demented as L.A. residents are perceived and to "act on your impulses. Except violent impulses...because violence is bad." Nash has always valued succintness over profundity.
The audience took her comments to heart as they jumped onstage and danced about while she screamed the lyrics to "Take Me To A Higher Plane." This would continue throughout the night, and, even when the threat of security loomed, Nash would dismiss the fun-killing twats to the corner. The only exception was at the end, when a woman wearing a trash hair accessory, no doubt furnished from the SUPERCUTE! merchandise offerings, was taken off the stage.
The set list was somewhat dissatisfying as the show continued and especially when Nash opted to include "Mansion Song," one of the least enjoyable songs on My Best Friend Is You, and "I Just Love You More" in the repertoire when far better selections, like "Pickpocket" and "Early Christmas Present," could have replaced the riffraff. Nash, however, was able to make the most out of each song during her limited time onstage. "Foundations" was another excuse to bring out SUPERCUTE! and "I've Got A Secret" provided the platform for Nash's strong feelings against homophobia. She stated that being surrounded constantly by other musicians (a direct reference to Ryan Jarman) and living in London sometimes allows her to forget how many dickheads there are in the world.
The show's pace slowed down after Nash's second to last song, "Model Behaviour." To conclude the set before one final encore, Nash sang the semi-hidden track on "I Hate Seagulls," "My Best Friend Is You." The lights stayed dim until she returned to the stage in an outfit that matched those of SUPERCUTE!, joining her yet again to perform "Brand New Key." Nash said the usual pleasantries that all musicians say at the end of a show and then proclaimed, "And if you don't know this song, go home." Agreed. Everyone should respect the ephemeral pop brilliance of Melanie. Or at least know the song from Boogie Nights.