Never Sit In The Front Row
Feeling Christmassy, I went to see Meow Meow in cabaret on the South Bank last night (resplendent with its German Christmas market and amazing pink and blue neon colour washes – the South Bank, not the artiste, although I wouldn’t put it past her – only to find that I had booked front row centre.probably the least sensible thing you can do for a Meow Meow show. Meow Meow likes to get into her audience – literally, as this means climbing among them and dragging them onstage.
For me, sitting this close inevitably involved getting roped in to hold a torch on her and at one point having to hold her breasts. The singer/dancer comes across like a more intellectual Bette Midler, arriving onstage in a giant bed to perform the first five minutes in German before halting with a cry of ‘Shit – where am I?’
With a penchant for Brecht-Weill material and downbeat French songs, she can’t resist breaking even the most moving set with doing something earthier, and this may be the only drawback to the ‘Post-post modern diva’, who ends up being hoisted inside a giant chandelier, having previously shared a pre-licked packet of crisps with us. With her trademark shtik – part delicate vocalist with an astonishing range, part dominatrix, part violently chaotic breakdown waiting to happen – Meow Meow is soon arranging alternative lighting (“I’m not called the Mother Courage of Performance Art for nothing”) by getting us all to shine our mobile phones on her. She kept a lot of them until after the show, breaking another number to announce to a hapless audience member, ‘You’ve got a text’. One poor sod ended up on a generator bicycle powering the footlights while she ripped down the EXIT sign and sang by its light.
Hurtling herself into the foyer to sign CDs after, she’s clearly the hardest-working diva around these days and is finally becoming better known – catch her new show ‘The Little Match Girl’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hall right now. Although she gets a better audience reaction in a smokier venue with more atmosphere, like the Soho Theatre, where she last performed.