The MSQ Review: Nellie McKay at Catalina Bar & Grill

By Macho Show Queen,

When you think of subjects for song cycles, few people would come up with Susan Hayward’s Oscar-winning performance as Barbara Graham, a woman sentenced to the death penalty for committing murder. But of course, we’re not the spectacular Nellie McKay, either.

On Friday night at Catalina Bar & Grill, Ms. McKay began her descent into this musical film noir world with the Jimi Hendrix classic “Purple Haze.” That wonderfully anachronistic start indicated we were in for a strange trip into Barbara Graham’s world. By combining well-known songs like “I Only Have Eyes for You” with some originals, Ms. McKay revealed herself to be amongst the finest actresses currently working.

In addition to being a witty and unique singer-songwriter, Ms. McKay infused her performance with the kind of commitment required to make this unique evening come to life. Backed by a very talented band, Ms. McKay ended the evening—after the execution of Ms. Graham—with a couple of songs from previous albums. It will be very difficult for other cabaret artists to measure up to this chilling and thrilling night.