(Oh, yeah, and Norah Jones is pregnant)
I remember my first time with Puss ‘n’ Boots — the supergroup comprising Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, and Catherine Popper. It was January 2010, when they were part of a Doveman and Friends show at the Mercury Lounge.
They seemed like they were having a lot of fun that night, but they were crazy sloppy, stumbling, playing in different keys, and generally just seeming a little too loose. But it was nice to see Norah, especially, in one of her many side projects where she isn’t the “star,” but just a player.
I’ve seen them a couple times since then, and my impression was the same: fun but too sloppy.
I expected more of the same from the 2013 Puss ‘n’ Boots Xmas Spectacular at The Bell House in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. I almost skipped it because I wasn’t expecting a particularly good show, but figured that with their special guests it would at least be a festive diversion.
The ladies of Puss ‘n’ Boots know how to throw a holiday party.
Check out more photos after the jump.
The very pregnant Jones was a bit subdued, but seemed to be having just as much fun as everyone else. Early on, she excused a mistake by saying she was drunk, a comment that got a few chuckles.
Later, after Popper made a joke about beer bottles, Jones even cracked a bit of a joke: “Shhhh, they don’t know I’m pregnant!”
The band members often joke when they screw up or are confused onstage that they’re professionals and they really know what they’re doing. It was no different Wednesday night. They were ragged, started in different keys — all the usual missteps. But for the first time ever, I got felt like they really did know what they were doing.
The playing was smooth and sweet — once they all got in the same key. They rambled through some classic country songs, including a couple of George Jones (no relation to Norah, of course!) tunes, some originals, and even a version of the Shane MacGowan-Kirsty MacColl holiday duet, “Fairytale of New York,” with Dobson on MacColl’s part and the mystifyingly wonderful Corn Mo doing a credible job with MacGowan’s.
Guest included rockabilly cover band Poundcake (featuring Teddy Thompson, Ethan Eubanks, and Jeff Hill) with a tremendous version of “Christmas in Jail,” Daria Grace and J. Walter Hawkes from the Pre-War Ponies, Michelle Casillas of Ursa Minor, stripper Minnie Tonka, and singer Charley Burnham and Norah’s bandmate Smokey Hormel.
It was pretty amazing all around. I’m glad I went, and it looked like the rest of the audience was pretty happy, too.
Now it’s time for Yo La Tengo to bring its delayed holiday spirit onstage at The Bell House. (Hanukkah is over and Maxwell’s is gone, but YLT plays this weekend.)