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House of Tudor 

A "Dark Kabaret," Buy Nothing Day, synth love, and the ever-fierce Marianne Faithfull

Wednesday, Nov 27 2002
During a recent Kurt Weill tribute in a small, now-closed cafe, I found myself unexpectedly overcome by the vocal prowess of mezzo-soprano Ariela Morgenstern. Having already awed audiences in Austria with the same repertoire, she toyed with us, emphasizing her theatrical training and lusty good humor, as well as the ribald nature of the songs. During the encore, however, she revisited the role of Carmen, and our jaws dropped. This year, Morgenstern not only won first place in the National Association of Teachers in Singing competition, she appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall's premiere of Imant Raminsh's Symphony of Psalms. Her voice alone would be worth the price of admission to "Unkle Paul's Dark Kabaret," but for no extra charge you also get master puppeteer Bob Hartman, fire performer and contortionist Cherry Bomb, lunatic juggler Frank Olivier, and bubblesmith Sterling Johnson, as well as the Cantankerous Lollies, Kitten on the Keys, and the Eric McFadden Experience. Unkle Paul asks that you dress to impress on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-25; call 885-0750.

With the height of the shopping season fast approaching, I wish to remind all anti-consumerism advocates to thoroughly clean your water pistols before taking them to the streets and malls. Remember, safety first. The recommended camouflage for Adbusters' 11th annual Buy Nothing Day is the much-despised drawstring peasant shirt and pre-soiled jeans. According to knowing sources, your battle cry upon approaching a similarly dressed, non-ironic target should be, "The more you consume, the less you live!" or the more succinct, "Suck this, suckers!" Those interested in more theatrical, less violent expressions of shopper-fueled rancor may don pig noses or sheep masks when shuffling through the nearest department store. Better yet, participate with 1 million people in over 30 countries by not participating: Don't spend anything but your time. Try writing dirty limericks, tickling your friends, tap dancing on the Golden Gate Bridge, tying and untying knots, or seeking a love that has no price. Buy Nothing Day is observed on Friday, Nov. 29, all day, anywhere and everywhere. Visit for more info.

Considered one of the sexiest bands by the bay, the Lovemakers skinny-dip in waves of synth, emerging with glistening limbs to pole dance on the Tom Tom Club, seal My Bloody Valentine with a kiss, and leave a wet spot for Depeche Mode. The trio -- comprised of former Applesaucers Lisa Light and Scott Blonde, and keyboard Casanova Jason Fish -- has not earned this reputation solely via midset tongue baths or Light's scant attire, or even for the baby-oil slickness between Light's shivering vocal pants and Blonde's space-boudoir guitar. The threesome has gained its standing because it's tight -- tight like an electro-pop virgin in a John Hughes movie. The Lovemakers perform on Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Voodoo Lounge with the Prids and Big Midnight opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 285-3369.

In the promo materials for "Song for Nico," a sad, smoky ballad on Marianne Faithfull's recent album, Kissing Time, Faithfull says, "The difference between us is that Nico had tremendous injustice in her life, and I've had tremendous luck." There is more truth than tenderness in that statement. Both women were handpicked by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham for their blond hair, flawless bone structure, and exquisite figures, their distinctive voices seemingly secondary assets. Both singers also became intimate with the rock 'n' roll royalty of the day, with each leaving substantial watermarks on the careers of the men they met -- Faithfull with "Sister Midnight," which she co-wrote and recorded several years before the Stones, and Nico with her dispassionate vocals on the Velvet Underground's debut. In addition, they truly defined themselves only after leaving the "inner circle": Nico with the doom-laden The Marble Index in 1969 and Faithfull 10 years later with the fearsome Broken English, two albums tempered by drug addiction, desertion, and a depth of despair seemingly antithetical to the pretty faces that got them noticed.

In "Song for Nico," Faithfull stands by her musical peer, describing the German-born model as an innocent caught in shit, and naming French actor Alain Delon, the impervious sire of Nico's only son, a "cunt." The rest of the album -- largely co-written or co-produced by Beck, Billy Corgan, and others, with contributions by members of Pulp and Blur -- finds Faithfull similarly self-possessed, brandishing words like "snatch" and "fuck" with all the pragmatic authority of a high priestess born in a rock slum. But, while her grit and her voice -- fierce, brittle, and seemingly unchanged by two decades -- do not dissolve in the electronic flourishes of her doting male celebrants, they seem only adequately complemented (the exceptions being "Sex With Strangers," on which Faithfull's passionless purr is matched by a sexy Beck-ian groove, and "Sliding Through Life on a Charm," an impenitent song written by Jarvis Cocker and based on Faithfull's autobiography). As gifted as her admirers may be, Faithfull might be better served by PJ Harvey, the only woman with whom she has ever expressed an interest in working, or by her own id, alone. Marianne Faithfull appears on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25; call 346-6000.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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