Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anne Bobby Makes Triumphant Return to 54 Below

Because of a crackdown on photography and recording devices, I've been a little slow to write about going to see Anne Bobby's return to 54 Below on Thursday. (As you can see, I should have kept my sneaky pic a secret.) Saw her solo cabaret de-virgining back in March, when she did a delightful set of (mostly) little-known showtunes. But as fun as that was, I knew I was in for an even more Kenneth night when I learned the sophomore set was filled with obscure pop songs, in an evening billed as "Back to My Routes: The Songs I Took With Me." Although an advertised ELO number was dropped from the final lineup, it was an exhilarating evening that kicked off with a spooky arrangement of the Bee Gees' "Nights on Broadway," which may have been about unrequited love back in 1975 but can be thought of nothing short of stalking today. (Pay close attention to the lyrics. Rebecca Schaeffer did not die in vain.) Accompanied by guitarist Steve Gettinger, percussionist Shannon Ford, pianist/musical director (and my pal) Christopher Schelling, plus the great Laura Dean on backing vocals -- how I wanted to join her! -- other highlights of the evening were a great mashup of Bruce Springsteen's "Silver Thunderbird" and Marc Cohn's "Used Car" -- "Used Thunderbird" -- Tom Waits' "Take Me Home," from his soundtrack to the incredibly underrated and underappreciated Francis Ford Coppola film "One From the Heart" (Teri Garr 4ever!), "Don't Forget to Walk" -- the Kinks' "Don't Forget to Dance" + the Ronettes' "Walking in the Rain" -- plus a straight shot at Jimmy Webb's "All I Know," my favorite song off Art Garfunkel's "Angel Clare."

As clever as the arrangements were, it's still Anne's voice and her between-song stories that really make the night memorable, though. (And she doesn't even talk about "Cop Rock" or "Nightbreed"!) Sometimes as a gay men it's easy to get wrapped up in our otherness -- and make no mistake, growing up gay will scar you for life. But hearing Anne -- a seemingly carefree, all-American beauty -- talk about feeling like such an outsider as a girl, staring at the Manhattan skyline (occasionally) from (the rooftop of) her suburban home in New Jersey and feeling like New York City was the only place where she could fit in -- sound FAMILIAR? -- made me take a break from my solipsism long enough to remember that we are all in the same boat, struggling to find our place in this world. To look at the world from another point of view. Good art does that.

Anne's shows are sporadic, but they are definitely worth seeking out.

She's with the band

Afterward felt like a high school reunion with all of the cool people I've met through Christopher in attendance, including his hubby, Augusten Burroughs, plus Robert "Fag Hag" Rodi -- and a rare appearance by his man, Jeffrey.

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