Fri, Jan 4
DRESDEN DOLLS with DIE MANNEQUIN at the Phoenix Rating: NNN
The line outside the Phoenix, snaking almost to Wellesley, formed in anticipation of the return of Boston duo the Dresden Dolls – their first show here since last summer’s True Colors tour.
With a turnout this huge, local openers Die Mannequin didn’t waste the opportunity. Fronted by gutter rocker Care Failure (taking her cues from Brody Dalle), DM came dangerously close to upstaging the DD, all within a pithy 20-minute set.
Rolling and writhing across the stage, diving into the crowd, pulling the crowd up onstage, Failure did everything except defile the mini-sphinx statue on the overhang. Wait – that happened. The music got pretty messy, but damn if you could take your eyes off the band.
The Dolls have a unique scene to call their own. It’s like 30s German cabaret meets gothic circus, and freaky fans on stilts breathing fire are not an uncommon sight at shows. While the crowd was tame by that measure (a few latex getups here and there), Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione didn’t seem to notice, immersing themselves and hungry fans in their weird, macabre world of piano rock and Marlene Dietrich theatrics for over 90 minutes.
The Dolls are either up your dark alley or coming from another universe, one with plenty of top hats and white makeup.
Sat, Jan 5
ROBERT GORDON with CHRIS SPEDDING at the Cadillac Lounge Rating: NNNN
Robert Gordon is cooler than you. Don’t worry – he’s basically cooler than all of us put together. The man is so cool, he makes the Fonz look like a fucking dweeb. He’s so cool that every time he comes through town he’s got no problem selling out two nights in a row, because everyone at the Caddy knows just how cool he is.
Accompanied by rock guitar legend Chris Spedding, the old-school rock ’n’ roll icon went through his set like a pro, grinning through song after song about fast cars, kissing girls and, well, being cool.
His velvety baritone commanded attention effortlessly as it worked wonders on covers of Devil In Disguise and The Wanderer and, aside from some technical glitches early on, Gordon again proved just what a class act he is.
Mon, Jan 7
KATE NASH at the Mod Club Rating: NNNN
If you’re unsure whether New Musical Express still has the pulse of the music world, the fact that Kate Nash sold out the Mod Club on a Monday night will set you straight. The NME darling had the entire audience wrapped around her finger as she barrelled through about an hour of music from her debut disc, Made Of Bricks.
For the most part, the bubbly Brit stayed close to her keyboards. But she did find her way to an acoustic guitar for a few tracks. The just-20-year-old Nash delivered a solid set of fun indie rock tunes, proof not only of her talent but also that the folks at NME still know good music when they hear it.