Kate Nash took the stage at 9:30 Club amidst a flash of red light, with Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells playing in the background. The quirky, darkly melodic song was the perfect choice to kick off the evening. Though Nash’s albums are a delicate mix of sweet melodies and acidic humor, performance seems to bring out her edgy side- and that’s a good thing.
Nash, a British songstress whose pop music with a bite is reminiscent of Lily Allen or Duffy, is back touring in the States to promote “My Best Friend is You,” her sophomore album. The new album has been long awaited by fans- Nash took a break from the industry following a tour to promote her 2007 album “Made of Bricks,” when she suffered what she has called a “proper breakdown.” Fortunately, “My Best Friend is You,” with the retro beats of “Doo-Wah-Doo” and the shockingly happy “Paris,” was worth the wait.
Nash, both in her music and onstage, is like the world’s coolest girl next door. One who lives close enough to still sing about the boys that broke her heart, but far enough away to brush off any hurt with sarcastic lines like, “I said I’d rather be with your friends, mate, because they are much fitter.” It was Nash’s finely tuned sense of humor that kept all eyes on the stage throughout her performance- the audience broke our laughing when, in the middle of “I Hate Seagulls” she translated the line “I hate anyone who if I was serving chips wouldn’t talk to me,” singing “that means French fries.”
The audience was nothing less than electrified by Nash- they answered each song with shouts and applause, even a spoken word piece that felt more like an on-stage nod to Betty Freidan than a musical performance. As if that weren’t enough demonstrated support, one audience member even shouted out a proposal- to which Nash responded, “I don’t think so…maybe if we were in Vegas.”
But though Nash’s quirky stage presence was worth the price of admission, her music didn’t disappoint. Switching gears throughout the night, Nash demonstrated her prowess on the guitar and piano-which was covered with light bulbs- as well as singing so enthusiastically she seemed on the verge of losing her voice. The peak of the performance was undoubtedly its end, when Nash closed with a pile-up of her biggest hits- “Paris,” followed by her 2007 smash “Foundations,” “Merry Happy,” and her encore song, “Pumpkin Soup,” which she took to a new high by adding some 70s funk to the track. Everyone who had room to dance in the sold-out club couldn’t help but throw up their hands and give in.
Before making her final exit, Nash thanked the crowd, screaming- “I can’t wait to come back here! You’ve been lovely!”- with such childlike joy that it wasn’t hard to believe her. Then she promptly stood on her piano, and danced around on the keys, amplifying the discord of screams and applause. Finished, Nash jumped down, took a hesitant, slightly self-conscious bow, and ran off stage. For those watching, the odd exit was just another reason to love her.