Kiki & Herb Live At The Knitting Factory

Kiki & Herb Live At The Knitting Factory
For the past 15 or so years, Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman have portrayed Kiki Du Rane and her pianist Herb in a variety of shows, both on and off of Broadway. Kiki is an alcoholic lounge singer whose cynicism and failed romantic liaisons give her plenty of material for her rambling anecdotes, which are periodically punctuated with overblown versions of pop songs. Imagine Hedwig (of Angry Inch fame) crossed with Scott Thompson creation Buddy Cole and it's easy to understand why a cult following has been building for some time. Live At The Knitting Factory is the duo's first DVD, and the 94-minute show is notable for its song selection, featuring their take on material by the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, Momus, Jarvis Cocker and the Geraldine Fibbers — definitely not what anyone would expect from a drag show. There are some more likely candidates, such as "Seasons of Love" from musical Rent and the duo's signature cover, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart," but the songs are secondary to the whole cabaret setting, where Kiki's stories are very much front and centre. Transferring their successful show to DVD hasn't been completely problem-free though. While they might require their exaggerated make-up lines to imply their alleged age in a theatrical setting, the scrawled eye pencil lines all over their faces are a distraction on a television screen. Similarly, the volume level of Bond's vocals and the hoots and laughs of an adoring audience probably add something to a live show but feel somewhat fake on DVD. Still, there's a huge amount of charm in the show and it's a very entertaining way to spend an hour-and-a-half. The only extras on the DVD are three archive recordings of Kiki and Herb throughout their time together, which show that things haven't changed too much during the past 15 years, plus an outtake from the main performance. (Alive Mind)