Monday night was a tough gig for the Scissor Sisters' unique mix of brash, witty and supersexual entertainment, but after a sluggish start they managed to pull off a great show.
This show was all about their new album, Night Work, which is much dancier than their previous two outings, and the group bounced onstage and launched straight into the title track, an upbeat feelgood number designed to get everyone pumping. Unfortunately it didn't quite have the desired effect, mostly due to the execrable acoustics of Melbourne's Festival Hall, which had Jake Shears' vocals down much too far in the mix and the bass so loud the walls and floor were vibrating. The vocals were eventually sorted out about halfway into the show but the skull-vibrating thudding of the bass never really went away.
Despite the low-key start, things really got going about half an hour in with Running Out, another song from the new album which is energetic both musically and in its performance. A good part of the appeal of a Scissor Sisters' show is the dancing, which will usually find fit frontman Jake Shears leaping around flamboyantly in sync with the vampishly seductive moves of fellow lead Ana Matronic. Between Ana, a former cabaret singer, and Jake, an ex-stripper, there is a lot of performance skill on offer and as anyone who is familiar with the group knows, their music and performance fairly oozes with sex.
Coming off the high of Running Out, the group ratcheted things up with a quick one-two punch, jumping straight into their huge earlier hit Take Your Mama followed by the uncompromising Kiss You Off. With this, the show finally hit its stride and the energy was high for the rest of the night.
Scissor Sisters are widely seen as a gay band, and perhaps this explains their relative lack of success in their own country. Although some of the group are gay, they don't really see themselves as a gay band. Jake Shears once said in an interview, "The fact that some of us are gay affects our music the same amount as it does that some of the members of Blondie are straight."
It is safe to say that Shears himself is something of a gay icon however, personifying the combination of good looks, great moves and self-confidence that every urban homo secretly hopes to attain. So it was really a sight to see when, deep in their disco and hero-worship, the group's gay fans were suddenly surprised to see another gay icon on stage. The song was Any Which Way, a slick and sleazy club anthem from the new album, and the unexpected guest was none other than Kylie Minogue. Frozen in the middle of their groove, for a moment the fans, suddenly torn in their affection, weren't sure what to do. Then, just as suddenly, as if by consensus, the floor erupted into an orgy of gay adoration.
They could have finished the show there and then and everyone would have left happy, but instead they powered on for another 20 minutes at the same pace, sailing through new single Fire With Fire and old favourite I Don't Feel Like Dancing, as well as rounding out the set list from the new album. They closed with Nightlife, a friendly, edgy and optimistic dance number which perhaps better than any other encapsulates what the Scissor Sisters are about, before walking off stage, the thudding of the bass now replaced by the thudding of the feet of a few thousand fans begging for more.
And more they got. Two encores, with Kylie back on stage for the first, singing a smooth, laid-back version of her hit All The Lovers with support from the Sisters. Then the group went out with a bang, stringing three solid club hits together for a pounding finale. Comfortably Numb, the unusual but strangely appealing Pink Floyd cover; Invisible Light, the dreamy denouement to the new album; and finally, inevitably, monster club hit Filthy/Gorgeous.
The Scissor Sisters clearly enjoy their live shows and work hard at them. That effort was rewarded as aching, exhausted, the fans filed out in the afterglow of a great show. We hope to see them here again soon.
Venue: Festival Hall, Melbourne
Date: Monday 26 July 2010
Time: Doors open 7:15pm