Gossip, Enmore Theatre - Sydney 16th February 2010
When Gossip dropped in to the Nova offices, Beth Ditto was so hyped up on the contents of her inhaler she barely stopped to breathe. It was a high that carried on right until the end of the night. The sold-out crowd got it all; jiggly bits, bras and undies, disappearing mics, messages of inspiration and shared sweat.
It’s a well known fact that Ditto is outspoken, that she takes her gear off on stage and that she has one of the biggest voices in the business. She’s got enough character in her pint-sized frame to fill a stadium and yep, she likes girls. The Enmore is smack bang in the middle of lesbian-packed Newtown and with Mardi-Gras on the horizon her male fans were out in force too. No matter what the gender, the band didn’t disappoint.
Ditto rocked a patterned catsuit, complete with purple hair, beads and a big black belt. As the gig progressed it all came off. “I’m down on my Syd-knees beggin’ please!”
The show kicked off with newies "Dimestore Diamond" and “Cruel Intentions” from fourth studio album Music For Men; complete with some highland-style dancing from Beth. The photo pit security copped a hefty dose of frontwoman flirtation “Are you gonna protect me tonight? It might mean me protecting you… ‘cos you’re cute!”
“2012”, “Yr Mangled Heart” and “Men In Love” reminded us to dance like there’s nobody looking. Some Gossip tunes verge on repetitious but closer attention to the lyrics makes you think as well as move your feet. With the frontwoman fresh out of a long-term relationship, you can’t help but wonder what they’ll come out with next.
Beth Ditto loves a bit of mid-song banter and highlights included a personal message to John Mayer; “My vagina loves everybody… John Mayer, may your dick fall off”. There was also an emotional tribute to the late Alexander McQueen. “I just want you to know, he was a very good man”.
The band also loves to ease in to their songs with well known musical intros. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” was the springboard for “Love Long Distance”, Madonna’s “Vogue” catapulted us into “Listen Up!” and Nirvana’s “Hello” went from eardrum-bashing shrieks to “Heavy Cross”. Ditto and band members Brace Paine and Hannah Blilie were somewhat swamped by the blank Enmore canvas and for someone who’s seen Gossip in tiny, grimy London venues, it couldn't compete. For the most part, the sideshow lacked the intimacy of shows gone-by but when Ditto left the stage after the gig and popped up in the middle of the crowd, the view from the balcony was a cracker. You don’t get much closer than that.
To avoid my Gossip-lovin’ bias, a few colleagues (and a certain boss) gave their verdict too:
“Loved it- one of the best concerts I’ve been to in ages. Great songs, great energy. I even wanted to strip down to my undies and bra at the end … well maybe not.” – Dean Buchanan
“Loved it from start to finish. "Heavy Cross" was an obvious crowd fave, but my highlight was the encore performance of “Standing In The Way of Control”, with Beth stripped down to her undies, dancing side of stage in front of the speakers. Amazing!” – Denee Savoia
The cover of Tina Turner’s “What's Love Got To Do With It” was a hands down winner. So too was Ditto's ability to hide the mic between her legs.
If you’re going to see them at Good Vibrations Festival, you’re in for a life-affirming treat. This is a band for all the kids teased at school, for everyone a little bit different and those with a dream. As Beth chanted at the end of a memorable set: “If I can do it, you can do it”. Hell, I was inspired enough to go home, strip down to my knickers and shake my ample arse in front of the mirror. You know what, for the first time in bloody ages, I didn’t want to call the nearest 24-hour liposuction helpline. Self-confidence through music – now THAT is a top night out.