1 of 2
2 of 2
GOSSIP at the Phoenix, Saturday, September 29. Rating: NN
About halfway through Gossip's long-awaited return to Toronto, the guy behind me excitedly exclaimed, "It's like a low-key Lady Gaga concert!" It would be hard for anyone who saw the Arizona-raised, Portland-based band in the early 2000s, when they played the lusty blues-punk that defined their early career, to believe him. But he was right.
Singer Beth Ditto, who dedicated the show to Will Munro and rocked an all-too-brief cover of Bikini Kill's Rebel Girl, admitted early on that the band was drunk in honour of touring keyboard player Katy Davidson's birthday. Maybe it was their pre-show imbibing that slowed the show down. There were long, chatty interludes that were lost to anyone not standing in the first few rows. Duets with Magic Mouth's soulful singer, Stephfon, could've been transcendent, but they need to figure out the mic situation before they attempt it again.
Hits like Heavy Cross were met with enthusiasm and had the predominantly male crowd dancing. But many of the new songs are dull, in spite of drummer Hannah Billie's driving beat and Ditto's sexy wail. They returned from a short break to sing Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It, which had some people swooning, while others made a beeline for the coat check.