Monday, May 07, 2007

Maria Scary

Maria McKee/Dan Whitehouse, Glee Club, Birmingham, Wednesday May 2 2007.

Just to show that Parallax View isn't just here for the nasty, snide things in life let's give credit where it's due and applaud the Glee Club for toning down the totalitarian tutelage from the PA which bemused us so at the Camera Obscura gig last month. We should really also mention that tonight's headliner Maria McKee makes a point of saying how friendly the staff are here, and a foxy barmaid with gorgeous eyes compliments your correspondent on his t-shirt, so it's now officially our favourite gig venue EVAH. Mind, Ms McKee is still given cause to mention how quiet and polite the audience is, so perhaps we are still gripped with fear that any signs of boisterousness will see us dragged into a darkened room and bitchslapped by a Bob Dylan boxset.

The advertised support, Tom Baxter, has broken down on the motorway somewhere (these singer-songwriters are such sensitive types, we hope he's over it soon) so Dan Whitehouse is drafted in at the last minute. He used to be in Naomi, apparently, well lucky him (or lucky her depending on your inclination). His microphone droops dramatically during the first number, and he, erm, manfully resists the quip 'that's never happened to me before, honest!' and instead leans over and croons unamplified in the ear of a female in the front row who appears to dissolve into desire as a result. Quite liked Mr Whitehouse's experiment with solo material, but decide a full band would probably better complement his big voice - maybe a booty call back to Naomi's in order?

Some people seem to leave after Dan's set - whether these are dissappointed Tom Baxter fans or Whitehouse guestlisters we're not sure - leaving a few seats free next to your correspondent for a couple of gentlemen to take up. On returning from the loo, we find them deep in theological discussion, to wit, 'I assure you I *do* exist and am not a figment of your imagination, if that helps'. Still, it's more entertaining than the chap in front who insists on loudly sucking on his gf's neck every couple of minutes before mock-sheepishly looking round to see if anyone's paying attention. Never would a bitchslapping with a Bob Dylan boxset been more deserved...

So Maria McKee can't come on soon enough for our tastes, and she delivers an entertaining set which includes the highlights of her new record (including dramatic title track 'Late December' and rousing album closer 'Starvin' Pretty') plus a decent spread of her older material, including a welcome version of classic Lone Justice single 'Shelter'. If you haven't seen McKee in a while she gives the impression of being as mad as West Ham's season, bossing her band (which includes her husband on bass and a former family childminder on backing vocals) to re-tune her guitar and keyboards during the off-kilter interludes between songs, and slating her record company for advertising her version of 'A Good Heart' as a cover when in fact she originally wrote Feargal Sharkey's hit as a teenager, and the inclusion of the track on her new album is her attempt to reclaim the song.

And yet the band and the audience indulge her, because ultimately she remains a huge and indisputable talent, a unique personality and extraordinary voice, and she's capable of pulling out tunes like 'High Dive' which defy genres as they charm and beguile. We do worry about her, though, principally because the questioning chap two seats away from your correspondent turns out to be the bloke who's driving her down to London in the morning. Let's hope he realises the traffic lights are real and not a figment of his imagination or else Maria McKee will surely be shown to heaven rather prematurely. Which, on this showing, would be an awful tragedy, in our Parallax View.



Anonymous Russ L said...

I believe Dan Whitehouse does also play in a band called Parade, alongside his solo larks.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Plenty more Maria McKee goodness on Troubled Diva for you Ken - links just posted to SWSL...

11:00 PM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Russ, I believe you may well be right about Whitehouse's other band.

Rumours have it he was going to bring them along to this Glee Club slot, but he checked out the weather forecast and didn't want to chance any rain on his Parade.

5:00 PM  

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