To have a Kiki (colloquialism): 1. to have a blast (drag queen slang) 2. to gossip (drag queen slang) 3. a strutting, nattering dance best done at front of a Scissor Sisters live show 4. A combination of all the above.
Let’s get this out of the way first: musically, Scissor Sisters are about as cheesy as they come. Possibly even more so live. That’s kind of the point: their blend of funky, surprisingly guitar led live pop is colourful, in your face and infectious enough to make Two Door Cinema Club weep into their latest Vodafone commercial. Led by the enigmatic and quite fantastically camp Jake Shears and the sassy, cartoon-meets-doll style of Ana Matronic, the New Yorkers are big, brash, bold and in your face exuberant. There’s so much going on beneath the almost flippantly lively luminescence of the Olympia’s stage set up, in fact, that you almost find yourself putting aside the impressive musical quality this band possess (no, really), and how easily they’re able to turn slightly throwaway songs into live monsters. Their only concession to understatement is in restricting the glitter to Jake Shears’ second, encore outfit.
That track best taken with a red bull or six on a Monday night freshman dance floor, ‘Take Your Mama’, is the perfect example. The 2004 single is one of those that we might just know the words to for the next few decades, but on record it’s all a bit obvious. And then you see it live. Shears pulls dance moves we’re not sure whether to laugh at or try to emulate. Del Marquis and Babydaddy fly from stage left to stage right and back, pulling exaggerated shapes behind their guitars along the way, and Ana Matronic is the very essence of cool, clad in a layered dress that looks fresh from a period drama. The vocals are slightly rough around the edges, an expectation given the sheer energy, and the entire Olympia audience is acting as one humongous sound mirror, bouncing every line back at double volume.
I feel like I shouldn’t get it. Even amongst the album tracks, this is pop at its most abrupt and hooky, but it’s also fun-loving, and has its tongue rammed firmly in its cheek. Impressively, the newer stuff is at least as good as the more established material. Camp-anthem ‘Let’s Have A Kiki’ is a predictably eccentric piece of performance art, but ‘Baby Come Home’ and ‘Shady Love’ have an equally instantaneous sing-along quality, with enough of a routine to seem quite fantastically and wittily contrived, but equally pack enough of a rough, edgy sentiment to connect. My mind’s cringing, but there’s such conviction behind this that my feet don’t seem to have noticed.
One way that the band’s passion manifests itself is in meticulous planning that clearly goes in to a Scissor Sisters gig. Sure, they make the monumentally cringe-inducing faux pas of dropping in how great it is to be back in ‘The British Isles’ (cue boos as loud as any cheer of the night), but they also drop in references to notorious south-side gay bar The George, local camp-star Bitches With Wolves and even to those other, ‘slightly’ more hostile Scissor Sisters who made their name chopping flesh just a few miles away. The routines are immaculate; like a Shears vs. Matronic dance off, with plenty of play acting and enough apparent spontaneity to avoid losing their sense of fun. Shear’s approach to pulling moves is overblown in its absurdity; a witty fusion of cartoon parody and loveable half-cut drunkard (though, in his case, probably minus the actual booze).
So there I am, a straight man at a Scissor Sisters gig, camping along to the melody as the colours overwhelm and my head almost rotates atop my neck with the sheer ridiculous exuberance of it all.They’d need some serious variation to make this a show you can sit through twice, but you know what, Scissor Sisters? “I’m going to let you have it” – as a one-off, sparkly extravaganza, this could scarcely have been more fun. And fun, when it comes down to it, is all that really matters at shows like this.
Photos: Debbie Hickey