By Jonathan Taylor
When Gossip announced their first tour in seven years to mark the 10th anniversary of the last studio release ‘Music For Men’, it comes as no surprise given the fanatical following of Beth Ditto and the dedicated fans of Gossip, that the Academy is a full house for the evening’s performance. The anticipation in the room to mark this musical return after almost a decade away is prevalent amongst the eclectic fans that fill the venue.
The venue erupts as Nathan Howdeshell and the other band members take to the stage and the decibels increase significantly at the site of Beth Ditto gracing the stage. Dressed in a flamboyant pink shiny dress, Ditto is full of smiles at the reception her and fellow band members receive from this Manchester crowd.
The set opens with the electro, funk inspired ‘Pop Goes The World’ during which Beth Ditto is in constant engagement with the crowd, smiling and waving at individuals she is picking out from her audience. The upbeat keyboard based track ‘Love Long Distance’ is up next, which is followed by ‘Listen Up’ off the bands third studio album ‘Standing In The Way of Control’. Between tracks Beth is in full conversation and expresses with deep affection her appreciation for the obvious love and admiration the band have from their fans on British soil. The set continues with Gossip dipping into their back catalogue with ‘Vertical Rhythm’, ‘Move In The Right Direction’, ‘2012’ and the wonderfully energetic ‘Men In Love’.
“We played in Glasgow last night”, Beth tells the crowd. “During a drunken moment, one of my false nails fell off”. She goes on to explain that she managed to super glue it back on, but in haste glued it on sideways. “Now my finger resembles a dolphin’s beak!”.
The crowd cheer in appreciation at this comical antidote and then the music continues with the understated opening track from ‘Music For Men’, ‘Dimestore Diamond’ which is followed by the beautifully melodic Baleric inspired ‘Get Lost’ from their 2012 album ‘A Joyful Noise’. Next is a cover version of ‘Are You That Somebody?’ by Aaliyah. The final track of the set is ‘Heavy Cross’, the first single taken from the album ‘Music For Men’. The applause is resounding as the lights dim and Gossip leave the stage.
On their return there is another outpouring of affection from Beth Ditto for the part the crowd has played in what has been a truly celebratory night of music. A stunning up tempo rendition of ‘Careless Whisper’ by Wham! opens the encore, followed by the punk inspired ‘8th Wonder’. The set inevitably draws to a close with the bands most popular anthemic hit ‘Standing In The Way of Control’.
Beth Ditto is a warm, spontaneous true force of nature who clearly belongs on the stage. Her vocal masterclass was something to behold and was the key ingredient to this joyous evening. It was an uplifting, energetic musical performance and it is clear Gossip have mastered the art of keeping a crowd entertained. After tonight’s display, it is hard to comprehend their prolonged leave of absence. Here’s hoping new material is on the horizon.