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Monday, October 17, 2005

People Die (Reprise)

Just thought I'd follow up on my last entry with a review of Friday night's kick-off of Kiki & Herb's "Resurrection Tour" at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.

I'm still scratching my head over how furtive the publicity for their tour has been. No ads, no press releases, no extended tour info on the web, no interviews or stories in the mainstream, alternative or gay press that I've seen.

Furtive is not a word that should be connected to publicity.

Yet, both of Kiki & Herb's Friday night shows were sold out and the auditorium was full of excited faces and newcomers who would soon be putty in Kiki's able talons...erm, I mean claws...ehhh, HANDS.

Friday night's performances followed the same formula that's made their shows a smash for the last ten years: They wound up the audience with an introduction wallowing in high-octane schmaltz, followed by some truly inspired cover versions of classic alternative songs (this time it was a riotous take on "Let's Go To Bed" by The Cure), seguing into a trip down the feverish rabbit hole of Justin Bond's mind by way of Kiki's wildly irreverent anecdotes, political rants, tragicomic first-person accounts and her bumbling turns of non-sequitur ("You should SEE what they're doing to cats these days, ladies and gentlemen....uh, Herb, what was I just talking about? ...oh well.").

By the last third of the show, as always, Kiki is on the floor from many sips of her infamously venomous on-stage cocktails ("Mommy's getting pretty", she growled after her first swig), followed by a suddenly-sobered and wholly re-energized encore, which of course ended up with one of their signature tunes, Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill".

Other songs given the Kiki & Herb treatment Friday night were Dan Fogelberg's "Another Auld Lang Syne", Spiritualized's "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space", "Cathedrals" by Jump Little Children, and their berzerk jaunt through the old standard "Make Yourself Comfortable", which becomes about as comforting as a shock therapy by the time Kiki is finished busting into her series of spastic dance moves, then screaming about "JUST WANTING TO MAKE YOU PEOPLE HAPPY!!!"

Kenny Mellman as "Herb" was as energetic and flawless as ever on the piano, though this time around his stage make-up was so over the top that he looked more like Sammy Terry than an aging lounge musician.

Of course, during the performance Kiki informed us that their stage wrinkles were in fact fake, and that they needed to draw them on before every show because they've been alive for the past 2,000 years due to an immortalizing incident at Christ's manger, and the duo didn't want to make the mortal public suspicious to their inability to kick the bucket...which also "explains" why, after they performed a kick-off show last year called "Kiki & Herb Will Die For You", they have come back from the dead.

Okay, kind of a flimsy excuse for throwing on the costumes and making some more money with a sure thing, right? Fortunately, they make the dumb excuse work for them with a series of jokes and schtick referencing their "revelatory" confession. ("I lived through the middle ages, ladies and gentlemen, and it wasn't cute.")

The funniest reference to this silly addition to the Kiki & Herb legend occurred every time Kiki mentioned the fact that they were playing in a museum, and hissing the word with a self-loathing shudder and sneer until finally breaking down and admitting "you know, I hate might be pretty to look at, but it's a pain to move."

Whatever caused Mellman and Justin Bond to consider "killing" their cult-icon alter egos is water under the bridge - the duo is back and stronger than ever. After playing Carnegie Hall last year, perhaps they wanted to tear down their momentum and return to the basics of their act. If this is the case, they've returned with a sharp focus for their characters and their act, and their show is more refined than ever, keeping the trainwreck energy of Kiki DuRane in tact but letting Bond's talent as a singer shine as brightly as her talent as a comic (in other words, more crooning, less screeching).

And this was only the first show of their tour of the States. If they can only get better, they're going to be downright transcendent by the end of their tour...whenever or wherever that may be.


Blogger Franklin said...

Well done. And I hope I get to see them next time :-(

9:40 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Onderdonk said...

This is the most cerebral, high brow, confusing post I've ever read in my life.

7:18 AM, December 14, 2005  

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