Gossip at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
On the 5th July, Thursday night was close and cloying; the kind of weather that makes you want to keep a certain distance between you and your fellow Londoners. The humidity, however, didn’t seem to deter two thousand eager fans from pouring into the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire to witness post-punk indie-rock band Gossip perform.
The night’s events were set up very nicely by supporting act Comanechi, an incredibly energetic punk/death metal quartet whose stand-out performance warmed the crowd up well, adding to an already lively atmosphere taut with anticipation.
However, the excitment was sadly stifled, as Gossip was half an hour late onto the stage. Despite the band’s tardiness, the crowd – by now packed tightly into the hall – wasn’t going to let an absent band get them down, and remained very lively during the wait.
When Gossip did eventually arrive on stage, to much cheering and applause, they immediately apologised to the audience and then launched into a lively rendition of Love Long Distance, from their 2009 album Music for Men. Lead singer Beth Ditto – renowned for her noticeable stage dances was incredibly energetic, jumping and dancing her way across the stage and dazzling the audience with her presence.
Ever the consummate performer, Ditto effortlessly involved her audience in the show, getting the two thousand strong crowd singing and clapping along with her throughout the performance, and most definitely making up for the band’s lateness, which was more than likely long-forgotten by the cheering audience. A special mention should be made of the band’s performances of Men in Love and Picture Perfect, two songs that made an already energetic crowd reach new levels of enthusiasm, and threatened to lift the roof off the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
The highlight of Gossip’s set was, undoubtedly, their last song of the night, the ever-popular Standing in the way of Control. A real crowd favourite, it is no exaggeration to say that the entire venue was moving to that particular performance – the reaction to the opening bars of the song were akin to an electric current passing through the audience.
A testament to how well a performance was received can be summed up easily by the crowd’s desire for an encore, and in this particular case that desire was extreme. Following Gossip’s last song, the crowd chanted and cheered and stomped their feet until Beth Ditto and company returned to the stage, and wowed with yet another powerfully electrifying round of songs during which Ditto took off into the crowd, walking and singing alongside her fans.
Trying to find a weak part of Gossip’s performance is difficult: the whole act was incredibly well polished and powerful. Beth Ditto, drummer Hannah Blilie and guitarist Brace Paine were on absolute top-form throughout the night, their stamina and passion throughout the show were stunning and to be applauded.
Overall, Beth Ditto’s band proved to be amazing hosts, utterly passionate performers and very gracious with their thanks to the two thousand fans crammed into the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. An incredible live act, Gossip is well worth seeing at any opportunity.
Photos: Helen Parish