Show Review: The Webb Sisters at Café Du Nord, 1/25/10

by Jason LeRoy on January 26, 2010

"And now, our a capella tribute to 2 Live Crew..."

The Webb Sisters performed their first of two partially seated shows at Café Du Nord last night. Not many get two consecutive nights to perform at Du Nord, but who doesn’t love a sister act? However, given how many there are, it can be difficult differentiating The Webb Sisters from such similar acts as The Watson Twins, The Chapin Sisters, or their clearest musical inspirations, t.A.T.u. But in this instance, it’s simple: these are the sisters who scored the once-in-a-lifetime gig of singing harmony for Leonard Cohen on his enthusiastically acclaimed recent tour. And it was very clear that the majority of those in attendance at Du Nord last night were hoping for more of the same. But is that what they got? (Also, just kidding about t.A.T.u.)

Make no mistake about it: Hattie and Charley Webb are absolutely delightful stage presences. Or are they just British girls with names like “Hattie” and “Charley”? It’s hard to tell. But they certainly endeared themselves to the crowd with their adorably English stage banter. From the moment Hattie greeted the crowd with the rarely-invoked French pronunciation of Café Du Nord (dropping the last “d,”) following by a chipper, “Salut!”, we knew our pants were as good as charmed off.

The sibling shenanigans continued when they introduced their percussion-playing brother, Brad, who mostly sat on his slapping-box and glowered while his sisters made little jokes at his and each others’ expense. “I’m having the most wonderful time!” Hattie crowed toward the beginning of the show. “I got drink tickets! I think that’s the first time in my life that’s happened!” “Cheap date. Easily pleased,” interjected Charley, a regular Ricky Gervais. “She’ll be pissed by the end of the night. Any takers?”

The sexual frustration that surely accompanies touring the world with your two siblings was evident throughout the evening. When Hattie wasn’t being pimped to the crowd by her sister, she was navigating her too-short skirt while seated at her harp. “I’m sorry, I’m going to be flashing my knickers at you,” Hattie apologized. “Right, but she knew she’d be doing exactly what she’s doing right now, and she still chose the short skirt,” Charley chastised. Cute, yes? But at moments, it got awkward. Witness the following exchange between the sisters and brother Webb. The “pear” in question is a small hand-held percussion instrument:

Charley: Right now, Brad’s gonna get his pear.

Hattie: Brad’s got a beautiful pear.

Charley: He does. I’ve seen him changing.

Hattie: Brad just shakes his pear, and then everything’s alright.

(silence)

Brad: Right. It’s gotten a bit weird now, actually.

Hattie and Charley: Right.

It was a bit weird for all of us. Fortunately they stopped working blue shortly thereafter.

Awkward or not, the girls’ stage banter was the highlight of the evening. The music? Not so much. Those craving a similar experience to the Cohen concert were generally disappointed. With the exception of “If It Be Your Will,” the song they performed every night on the Cohen tour, and a playful unplugged cover of “I Want You To Want Me”, the sisters stuck entirely to their own original material.

They are certainly talented singers and musicians, but their music is overly mannered and inoffensive, like a cross between Eisley and The Corrs. If that sounds like heaven to you, then you’d probably love it. This reviewer, not so much. Still, I certainly can’t say I wasn’t entertained. I think for their next act, the Webb Sisters should just embrace their cheesiness and do a traveling Broadway review. I’d be there with bells on.

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