It’s not every day you go to a concert where dressing up is mandatory. Last night however, the tube ride towards South London set the scene for a night of filthy gorgeous exhibitionists… on stage and off.
The tube station at Brixton is a sight for sore eyes at the best of times. On Halloween night, pre-Scissor Sisters gig time, mummies, ghouls and giant walking pumpkins, joined the usual mix of drug dealers, nervous policemen and anti-war protestors. Girls made full use of the opportunity to wear tight spandex, black leather and
Devil horns. Random men loitered about feasting their eyes on glitter-encrusted flesh, oblivious of the concert but thanking their lucky mon-stars that Halloween had come to their part of town.
As I adjusted my own set of… wings, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if real Brixton knife wielders decided to make a show. There were more fake wounds and protruding blades on display than your average night out in the area’s more dodgy nightclubs.
Luckily, the vibe amongst the concertgoers was nothing but euphoric. The freezing cold may have rendered us speechless but swift work by the door staff had us in and thawed out in record time. Who knew frisking the Devil would be so pain free?
There’s something about the Brixton Academy… maybe it’s the aged and character filled interior. It could be the carpets stained by hoards of music lovers, aloof staff members who serve you only when they damn well feel like it. It could have something to do with the sloping floor that gives pint-sized punters a chance to see the action, or the seating… high up in the heavens with a bat’s eye view of the surreal interior. Where else can you watch the music world’s greats perform beneath a replication of the Rialto Bridge in Venice? No, I thought not. Whatever it is, the Brixton Academy is where magic happens.
The support act, ‘The Infidels’ rocked hard enough to entertain an impatient crowd, holding their own with sound and costumes. The DJ also whipped up a series of ‘Gostbusters’ and ‘Thriller’ sing-a-longs… broken only by the unnerving screeching of ‘Redrum… Redrum’. I guess Halloween and The Shining go hand in hand. All the while, the Swedish chef from The Muppets busied himself with guitars and stage set up.
Now, there’s arriving late with style and then there’s verging ridiculous. Sure, they had to set up the two towering gargoyles were rolled out on to the stage, accompanied by a body on a large operating table… but honestly. The blanket covering the corpse sparked much debate. Is it or isn’t it? My bet was on Jake Shears – the bedside mic was a dead giveaway. But, 30 minutes after they’d rolled it out we decided that they couldn’t possibly make the star lie dormant for that long. We were wrong.
From the moment the curtain rose, we knew we were in for a spectacle. It makes one wonder… all the money spent on elaborate props surely could have been donated to Oxfam. Not that I’m complaining – my eyes are still reeling from the light spectacle and Jake rising from the spinning table like a shining cross between Jesus and Frankenstein (in drag of course) is something I’ll never forget. Never ones to dress down for the occasion, the entire band looked “fabulous daaahling”. A mummy on drums, a vampire on lead electric and a Warewolf on bass. By the time ‘She’s My Man’ kicked in the fairies in the audience (both winged and otherwise) were beside themselves. That’s the thing about this band, they bring girls, effeminate men, big burly brutes and straight laced office workers together under one roof. All smiling, all dancing and all celebrating the fact that different and individuality is a damn fine thing.
It took two songs before Ana Matronic made an appearance; a busty, bold and beautiful ghoul woman with piercing lungs and an erotic stage presence. The levels left a lot to be desired to begin with but they (and the sound crew) soon gelled. A good mix of oldies and new tracks lifted butts off seats and made life hell for the security staff. Sometimes you’ve just got to let the people dance. A body or two over the railings would have been a small price to pay for Scissor induced jiving.
Banter between songs was long-winded and entertaining. There’s nothing worse than an entertainer that can sing the roof off a venue but lacks the charisma to engage with the audience. And engage they did… wigs were fired in all directions and Jake announced that he’d hand drawn 120 Halloween posters… proceeds to go to Oxfam. One mad dash to the merchandise counter (and some big, pleading fairy eyes) later and I had two. Sealed, signed and priceless. Meaningless tat to some, a priceless memory to others.
By the time “I don’t Feel Like Dancing” and “Filthy Gorgeous” hit our ears we were in encore heaven. Jake had stripped down to his glistening lycra pants and the stage was graced by a eunuch hula hoop twirler, an enormous gorilla, mummies, a monster or two and a torrent of shiny confetti. As the crowd coughed up sparkles and wiped their sweaty brows we knew we’d been part of something special. After the gig in Trafalgar Square I didn’t they could top the last Scissor Sisters spectacle. How sweet it was to be proven wrong. For a band that so willingly stretches the boundaries for charity, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
As for the fantasy figure packed tube ride home… well, that’s another story.