<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/gossipjul5.jpg" alt="Gossip : Live" />Gossip came to London's Sheperd's Bush Empire. ...
Gossip : Live

Having been ushered into the basement of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Thursday, July 5th, with a ticket made up of the ‘Gossip’ scrawled on the back of a ticket used for another concert, I passed celebrity-gossip columnist/gay-person outter Perez Hilton.  The quiet excitement was palpable among the varied crowd, but I had little idea of what to expect.  Having moved from punk to a Scissor Sisters (QRO live review)-esque pop, would we see the scuzzy or Jean-Paul Gautier model side of Ms Ditto?

The acoustics made her high-pitched, demure, and polite speaking voice hard to understand.  However, the Marvin Gaye reference of "Love Long", with its big, catchy, chorus and Kylie-esque beat, suited her clear vibrato singing style.  The voice commanded the room, and sat well with the tightness of her band.  With her next song, she seemed to be channeling a Southern Baptist churchgoer, both with her outfit and with her two-step moves.  It was almost as if she could belt out ‘hallelujah’ at any moment.  While there wasn’t a real party atmosphere, she definitely had the crowd in the palm of her hand.  It’s a shame the acoustics didn’t allow for her between-song patter to be heard: the crowd would have listened. 

Beth Ditto

Beth DittoThundering drums and red lights ushered in the slick ‘80s synths of "Move In the Right Direction" (was this perhaps written as a metaphor for their musical change?…).  "Listen Up" brought a more nourished sound, more bass and more drama.  "Love Is a Four Letter Word" was sufficiently funky, and Ditto serenades the audience with gusto.  "Men In Love" brought the tempo down, let the beat drop and changed the tone slightly.  This is countered immediately with "A Joyful Noise", as Ditto tried to amp up the chilled crowd, who had been behaving very much like they were out on a school night.  Appropriately, Ditto’s exhortation to "Try, try, try", and "Work, work, work" over the honky-tonk piano felt a little after-school-special, especially with the crowd sing-along of, "I’d like to stay and party / But I’ve gotta go to work."  Her a-cappella take on the last line showcased her pipes, and created a lovely moment.

During "Love in a Foreign Place", dedicated to Irene (an unknown in the audience) she called out to her "sisters" and "brothers" in the crowd, rallying the crowd with a declaration of "Power to the people!"  The slightly more interesting "Get Lost", we got more, very effective, almost a-cappella moments.  However Ditto seemed to be trying to entertain herself by wandering around during the reggae-lite bass line of "Into the Wild", as the quiet audience looked on, politely.


Beth DittoWe eventually got the song we were waiting for, with the raw vocal performance we wanted.  Many might question her riot grrrl credentials, but Ditto certainly seemed sincere with her calls for "unity" and "equality" at the end of "Standing in the Way of Control".

The encore was genuine and sustained, and Ditto returned in a tight black outfit (hard to tell whether it was a little black dress or a unitard).  She asked us, "How you doing?", but it was clear that something had changed.  She continued with "Heavy Cross", with the guitar play making up for the slightly lame synth melody.  Her voice never faltered, and her crowd was all adoring, but her demeanour had altered.  What was a well-executed and entertaining concert – of perhaps so-so songs – was ended by Ditto climbing up to the balcony and talking rather incoherently about the life-stories of various people no-one cares about.  That was a damn shame.


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