Gossip at Fine Line, 10/6/12
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen
With Magic Mouth and Bonnie Montgomery
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
October 6, 2012
Gossip picked the perfect night to make their grand return to Minneapolis, as the now Portland-based dance-punk band rolled through the Fine Line on a Saturday night and found a festive, packed house eagerly waiting for them. After neglecting the area for six long years, Beth Ditto and company certainly made up for lost time by delivering a relentlessly upbeat, nearly two-hour set which not only drew from throughout their back catalog, and current album A Joyful Noise, but paid tribute to the band's myriad musical influences as well.
Ditto admitted straight away that she (and the rest of the band) was suffering from a cold, but "we're going to persevere." And, with the help of what appeared to be a whiskey drink at her side for most of the show, Ditto's dynamic voice and boundless personality never wavered once throughout the set. The band is currently touring as a quintet, with guitarist Nathan Howdeshell and longtime drummer Hannah Billie joined by bassist Chris Sutton and keyboardist Katy Davidson, and the group was locked in and potent straight from the start, as the disco-pulse of opener "Love Long Distance" got the party started in a hurry.
The urgent churn of "8th Wonder" was complimented with a long tag of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" during the fiery coda, the first of many moments during the show where Ditto would give a tender nod to some of her favorite bands and musicians. While much of A Joyful Noise sounds glossy and overproduced, in a live setting these songs are stripped of much of their sheen and take on a fiery edge, much of that due to Ditto's impassioned vocals. So new songs like "Move In the Right Direction," "Melody Emergency," and "Get a Job" (which was dedicated to "All the rich kids...that drive you fucking crazy") all were given a bristling bite to them that is lacking on the studio versions.
Photos By Anna Gulbrandsen
After taking a veiled shot at the proliferation of competitive music talent shows in this country, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga -- "Who cares if Born This Way is a bunch of different versions of the same song? I love it," -- Ditto brought the heat on spirited versions of "Listen Up," "Four Letter Word," and "Men In Love," (featuring a subtle "I Would Die 4 U" intro) which got the many men in love in the audience dancing up a storm. While the band generated some rather simple (but unquestionably irresistible) beats and rhythms at times throughout the show, Beth's soaring vocals and inexhaustible charisma consistently carried the songs and the set, as she connected and interacted with her adoring fans throughout the entire show.
The band really had things in high gear towards the end of the set, as "Casualties of War" took on a rocking, insistent pulse, while the slow-burning "Perfect World" simply soared once the chorus kicked in as Ditto simply owned the raw emotions of the track. The band dug deep into their back catalog for an intense version of "Yesterday's News" from 2003's Movement, which Ditto introduced by saying "It's the last night of this part of our tour, and what a treat it is to end it in Minneapolis." The band then really set the place on fire with a raucous take on "Yr Mangled Heart," that proved to be a clear highlight of the set, one which Ditto didn't allow to have many low points.
A playful snippet of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" served as an intro to a blistering version of "Get Lost," which featured Ditto taking a phone from the crowd and singing to a surely gobsmacked Amy on the other end of the line. Beth kept things playful by doing a quick impersonation of Janet Jackson saying "Minneapolis!" before a rousing "Into the Wild," before the main set came to a close with a vibrant version of "Heavy Cross," which found Ditto and the crowd dancing away to the song's roiling beat.
Photos By Anna Gulbrandsen
After a lengthy encore break allowed Ditto to change her dress, the band settled into a groove before Beth eventually took to the stage, as she delivered the menacing vocals to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" over the group's emphatic rhythm. The cover eventually morphed into Gossip's own "Eye's Open" before Ditto gave "War Pigs" one last go as the track dissolved explosively. Chanticleer from openers Magic Mouth then came out to join Beth on vocals for a lighthearted cover of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It."
Ditto then opened up to the crowd once again before the last number of the night, "There are times when everybody questions what they do. But nights like tonight just remind us that this is why we fucking do what we do. Thank you so much, I can't remember having so much fun." She then talked of the band's first time in Minneapolis 13 years ago opening for Sleater Kinney on their first tour ever, and how she's loved the city ever since. And with that, there was only one way to close the show, and that was with an incendiary version of "Standing In The Way Of Control," which potently brought the night to a close with Ditto singing the second half of the song from in the middle of the jubilant crowd.
Though the band then left the stage at that point, Beth wasn't done, as she preached to her people one last time about being strong and proud of who we are, the importance of the upcoming election, and getting a crowd singalong on an "Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cuz the power of the people don't stop" chant. It was one last chance for Ditto to make another connection with fans who've been waiting so long for her to come back to them.
Personal Bias: I was at that Sleater Kinney show Ditto mentioned, but I don't think I've seen them since. I won't miss them next time -- their live show is a ton of fun.
The Crowd: Packed with people of all stripes, sizes, creeds, and colors all looking to have a great time on a Saturday night.
Overheard In The Crowd: Lots of shouts of adoration directed towards Beth ("I love your dress" "You're beautiful"), which she always returned in kind.
Random Notebook Dump: While I still believe this show would have been great had it happened on a Tuesday night, this performance was clearly aided by a strong Saturday night vibe which had the band and fans alike all in a great mood.
Love Long Distance
8th Wonder/Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill)
Move In The Right Direction
Four Letter Word
Men In Love
Get A Job
Casualties Of War
Yr Mangled Heart
Into The Wild
War Pigs/Eye's Open (Encore)
What's Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner)(Encore)
Standing In The Way Of Control (Encore)
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