Meow Meow, with Lance Horne on piano - Will's New York Nite Life

Meow Meow, with Lance Horne on piano

Meow Meow, with Lance Horne on piano


Meow Meow, with Lance Horne on piano
Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette Street, (212) 539-8778
Sunday July 16 through Tuesday July 18

For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, “Meow Meow” is the performance persona of Melissa Madden Gray, an Australian singer and actress who, as Meow Meow, is one of the primary figures in what New Yorkers call “Alt Cabaret” but what most of the rest of the English-speaking world calls just plain “cabaret.” The Meow Meow character is an internationally-celebrated sacred monster of a diva, yet a highly dysfunctional one, who alights the stage wearing a raggedy tutu, a single frayed opera glove, and holding not one but two half-smoked cigarettes - and, oh yes, largely covered in police tape. (“International boundaries are not as easy to to cross as they used to be,” she informs us.) Along the way, she bickers comically with her musical director (the formidable Lance Horne - when he he puts his Emmy award on the piano, she mumbles under her breath, “daytime”), is constantly getting the wrong lighting from the tech crew, and makes all sorts of bizarre demands from the audience - like positioning young men on stage (“the sacred space”) with disco balls and flashlights. All this interaction shtick with the crowd is not only funny in and of itself, but helps make her songs (like the very touching “One For Sorrow”) seem all the more poignant. For all the outrageousness of her character - she often seems like a postnuclear Sally Bowles - her singing is extremely subtle, more intimate than oversized, and her material is mostly high class cabaret fare, like Brecht and Weill. “Pirate Jenny,” which must be a kind of a national anthem in Joe’s Pub, is downright bone chilling, especially in German.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, October 2017)

SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)