Tag Archives: Highline Ballroom

Brian Wilson comes alive

Brian Wilson at the Highline Ballroom. (© 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

The funny thing about Brian Wilson, the man who masterminded the Beach Boys, is that he doesn’t look like he really cares all that much about his legendary surf-and-sun band’s music.

Sure, he’s got all the moves down, gives the heavily scripted introductions you’d expect. He was pretty much the picture of a legendary bandleader when he brought his act to Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom in Manhattan on Sunday, June 12. But he had that faraway look in his eyes.

Brian Wilson and his band.

But for the first half of the show, Wilson and company performed spirited versions of a hit parade of Beach Boys classics, include “Good Vibrations,” “Heroes and Villains,” “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows.”

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Nellie McKay vs. Christmas trees

A trippy light show for a trippy artist: Nellie McKay and her quintet at New York's Highline Ballroom. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Nellie McKay never disappoints. She did a spirited show at the Highline Ballroom on Saturday night, Dec. 11 with a full band that was as sharp, charming  and entertaining as any Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has seen.

Quirkiness is big part of Nellie’s shtick, but sometimes it hinders enjoyment of her amazing ability to interpret timeless pop songs and make important points with her own tunes. But at times, especially in her solo shows, Nellie’s seemingly absent-mindedness can overwhelm the show a bit.

Nellie McKay and her band.

At the Highline she was organized, focused and well-rehearsed. While there were a couple of false starts, there were no long, awkward pauses while she tried to remember the next song, or find a battered cheat sheet in her homemade fakebook. It was clearly a benefit of working with a band. With bass, guitar, drums, trumpet and trombone all depending on her for cues, there was less room for stumbling.

Nellie McKay duets with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Nellie never pulls punches when addressing things that are important to her: the environment, animal rights, the horrors of fur. But even when she goes a bit too far, she never loses her charm. She performed an anti-Christmas Tree song, with lines like “please don’t chop another Christmas Tree” and “please don’t ax another evergreen.”  Okay, I can see the moral problems with Christmas Tree production and reasons not to support that system, but she lost me with the line “please don’t kill another living thing.” I don’t want to get political about it, but something has to die for every meal — even a vegetarian or vegan repast.

Click through to the jump for more photos and details.

Vince Giordano joins Nellie McKay.

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