Monday, February 26, 2007LISTEN UP!
Since I last saw The Gossip at a crazy gay warehouse party in Berlin last summer, they have been causing quite a stir in Britain. For years they had been coming over to play and meeting a muted and sometimes even nasty response from a closed-minded music press. Something happened - whether it was all the DJs spinning Standing In The Way of Control in every disco across the country, or a VIP like Conor McNicholas actually going to see one of their intense live shows before slating them, I don't know. But it happened and now that song is everywhere, notably on every advert for ridiculous but excellent E4 teen series, Skins, The Gossip have been on all the peak time TV chat shows and spread across the pages of every broadsheet colour supplement. They are everywhere. My boyfriend, who saw them for the first time three years ago at a party asked me if I thought they'd sold out. I replied with a laugh, and a "No". Their huge big sell-out gig at the Astoria on Saturday was a confirmation of this.
They opened with Listen Up!, Beth Ditto walked on stage wearing a cobalt-blue shiny cat suit with a bin bag over her. In her patent high-heel shoes she was a picture of uncompromising glamour, defiant, strong and not ready to take any shit. After the song she started to thank NME for making her numero uno on their 2006 Cool List (cue: everyone whooping and murmering about that being how they discovered the band) before going on for a scathing attack of how the NME chickened out of the women only cover for that issue at the last minute, puting safe-option Muse on instead. Right back at you NME! At your own fabled Awards Shows! Without much further ado, the band played on, Beth shedding the bin bag once the 20-strong photographer ensemble had left the photopit to reveal the full blue catsuit. She might not conform to catwalk standards, but Beth can walk/dance in heels with more confidence than most other women, and is more confident in her own skin than almost anyone. The catsuit was proof of that. And therefore she is undestroyable. No amount of hype or nasty fat jibes can break that.
All the attention has not changed the band whatsoever. They seemed so humbled to be playing to this huge crowd, with Beth saying that more people were in the (sold-out) venue than reside in her Arkansas hometown. But the crude onstage banter was at the same level as it was for the aforementioned 4am Berlin gay warehouse party...she spoke about her desire to have as big a Cameltoe as possible, sharing her and drummer Hannah's swamp-pussies resulting from long flights from their base in Portland, Oregon, to London, showing that they come as they are and you have to love them or lump them. Unsurprisingly the "checking them out" crowd loved them, though many were slightly bemused by the banter at first. I had expected the crowd to be a bit more moshy, but they were quite calm for a Saturday night crowd. I, however, was uncontrollable. The Gossip's music, old, new, present is so electric, deep-cutting and positive that I couldn't help but spaz out. I love them and I'm so happy that they have this platform now. I am sure they will use it wisely.
On a music front, they played three new songs; Tribal Best, Makeshift Promise, Spare Me From The Mold. All of them sounded brilliant. Slightly faster, slightly poppier, but strong, dangerous, confrontational and beautiful. They sounded finished - the Gossip have been in the studio and I'd guess they'll put a new album out before the end of the year. 2007 has their name all over it already.
I saw a bigger version of Beth Fatto in her catsuit on Page 3 of the Independent and almost puked up my flapjack. Fucking great song, zero sex appeal.
I no longer wish I was a lesbian.