Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Kerry Kennedy at Rose Bar, Brooklyn NY 1/21/09

A casually captivating, absolutely haunting set by the songwriter/guitarist and her brilliant band. In about 45 minutes onstage, Kennedy came across as part David Lynch girl and part Paisley Underground bandleader, a sound that hasn’t been heard around New York in a long time. She’s a lot like Neko Case, but with a distinctly more rocking edge: she deserves to be just as well-known. Throughout the set, Kennedy sang in a clear, unaffected, unadorned voice, playing her Fender Jazzmaster a little low in the mix. Her terrific lead player, Nathan Halpern made heavy and spectacularly effective use of reverb throughout his often wildly intense solos, adding flame and intensity to the songs’ darkly glimmering, noir ambience. The rhythm section, with acoustic bass, played with a hushed subtlety, the occasional tasteful drum accent or bass fill deftly following the lyrics or the trajectory of the music.


The group opened with the eerie, 6/8 James Jackson Toth ballad One From the Mountain, Halpern wailing and tremolo-picking as the song built: and then they took it out the same way they came in, again building the intensity to redline. Their second song reminded a bit of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Happy When It Rains, with a nice pointillistic solo from Halpern. On the next number, he took a long, thoroughly macabre Bauhaus-style noise solo that didn’t waver even as the band brought the sound down to just drums and guitar.


Kennedy remarked that the bar’s lowlit confines were the perfect place for her to get glammed up a bit (as unpretentious as she comes across, that was seemingly a big deal for her), asking the crowd if they’d ever been to Graceland: “It makes clear the connection between Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson,” she explained, the glitter on her face twinkling behind the lamps.


The next song was a hypnotic two-chord song with a total Dream Syndicate/True West feel that built to an eerie snakecharmer solo from Halpern, then Kennedy took it down again, then finally built to a completely unhinged crescendo with the guitars raging at the end. The next number, possibly titled Wishing Well, maintained the nocturnal, psychedelic vibe: “How long into the night will you wait for me?” Kennedy inquired matter-of-factly. They closed the set with a David Lynch-esque, noir 60s style pop song featuring some tasty country-blues fills from Halpern. The crowd roared for an encore, so Kennedy obliged them with a starkly haunting, solo version of another James Jackson Toth co-write, Dive, a brand-new country-gothic suicide ballad that she said she’d written in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. If that’s the kind of inspiration she gets there maybe she should visit more often. Fans of all dark Americana bands and rockers – Steve Wynn, Calexico, Giant Sand, Tandy and the aforementioned Ms. Case – will love this stuff. Watch this space for upcoming NYC gigs.

January 22, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] better news, here is a positive review of kerry’s most recent show.  yay kerry!  i like that the review points out her penchant […]

    Pingback by Stompbox › some do a bid from one to ten | January 28, 2009 | Reply

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