out for an evening

Kate, Joachim, Tracy, Glen and I went out to see Imogen Heap. Kate and I have been listening to her new album, Speak for Yourself , for a couple of weeks, now, and really liking it.

Glen went off to have dinner with some friends, so the rest of us met for dinner before the show at Brown Sugar, which has apparently been winning Best of Boston awards for a couple of years running… and with good reason. Their menu featured dishes I’ve never heard of in a bewildering variety. We eventually started with

Cs10. **Plar Pla Sa-lid Krob** ** Crispy Black fish in spicy lime juice a/sweet chili sauce w/lemon grass, red onions, mint leaves, chopped coriander & scallions in Thai Style

which came out on a bed of lettuce and hot peppers, and were basically pork rinds, except made out of fishskin. Salty, spicy, fish rinds, really, though better than that makes them sound.

for dinner, we had:

Cs20. **Avocado Dancing** * (_seasonal_) This special coconut-free yellow curry, northern Thailand called Hung-Lay. with diced tender chicken, potatoes, shredded ginger, garlic and aromatized with galanga & lemongrass, wedges fresh avocado on

The “wedges fresh avocado on” helped this dish along, as did the slices of ginger and lime sections. Tasty.

Cs54. **Mee Ga-thi ** Saute rice vermicelli noodle with chicken & shrimp in a sauce of sweet coconut milk, spicy tofu, chive leaves, bean sprouts, topped with shredded omelet and crisp shallots. Available vegetarian.

Tasty, but nothing particularly notable. A little sweet, a little shrimpy, and complemented well by the fat white beansprouts which all three dishes had next to them. The vermicelli was very fine and magnetically clung to itself (Van der Waals adhesion?), which made portioning it out hard without really prying at it and flinging little clumps of it on the table.

and of course, that without which no visit to a Thai restaurant is complete:

N02. **Pad Thai Country Style** * An authentic spicy version of Pad Thai with egg, chicken and shrimp, plus extra ingredients of spiced tofu bits and turnips. A truly native dish

I would go back to Brown Sugar in a stone minute. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Then we walked down the block to the Paradise, waited briefly in line, and then filed into the club with a fairly eclectic mix of students, bikers, new-agers, club kids… The posters on the hallway going in described Imogen Heap as “grown-up pop,” which we all agreed was pretty much dead-on.

Skinny, spiky, be-dreaded Zoe Keating opened, playing her cello and her looping/sampling pedals. A little melodramatic in places, but a lot of it held a very soundtrack-y sense of strong emotion without going too far. Good stuff.

Imogen came out to introduce Zoe, and seemed like “someone it’d be easy to hang out with,” per Glen. When she came out after Zoe’s set, she seemed even cooler. She’d brought no backup band at all, but introduced everything on her tables as if they were her band: keyboard, sequencer, Mac laptop, and some kind of “weird-ass thumboard thing,” (that per Glen) and both a wired and a wireless mic.

Her voice is great and her control incredible. Tonally, she floated and stung; technically, she had some difficulties. Her wireless mic crapped out a couple of times, we couldn’t hear her between-song patter at all from the balcony, and a couple of times she needed to stop, adjust some cables, and restart the song. On a good third of the songs, she had way, way too much reverb on her vocals.

She sang a lot of songs from the new album, many of which suffered a little for her trying to do them as much like the (very well produced) versions on the disc. The songs that she did a little plainer (just her singing and playing the keyboard) or fuller (with Zoe backing her on the cello) worked really well; a lot of the rest had some thin spots as she tried to combine pre-sequenced bits with loops, choral effects, and the thumbboard. While we had a really good time and continue to be impressed with her voice, we all agreed that she’d sound better with a touring band.

Also, she’s very tall and very charismatic.

A brief stop at Steve and Tom’s later, we came back to Glen’s house to fall into bed.