Gossip at Somerset House: A spectacular celebration of queer culture
Noughties indie bands have looked forward to this decade to trawl out their “classic” albums on an anniversary tour. Gossip could have done one two years ago, but it’s better they reunite to celebrate 2009’s Rick Rubin-produced Music for Men than not at all.
Prior to the queer icons’ set, lo-fi black feminist punk three-piece Big Joanie entertain with a half-hour show. They seem to take a while to fully synchronise in the early stages of their performance; however, their final three-song ending – including a pro-queer and anti-Boris Johnson message before delivering Fall Asleep and It’s You respectively – make them a though-provoking and pertinent outfit perfect for modern times.
Having begun their anticipated reunion in early July in France, Gossip need no time to warm up. From opener Pop Goes the World to the main set-ending killer single Heavy Cross; the funky bass of touring member Chris Sultan, booming drums of Hannah Billie, spiky guitars of Nathan Paine and courtyard-filling voice of post-riot grrrl’s answer to Etta James (the inimitable Beth Ditto) transform the Somerset House outdoor space into a 90-minute pulsating outdoor disco. And every crowd member becomes more and more animated in their dance moves as the set progresses.
It’s not just the songs, though, that make this a superbly queer Sunday night spectacle. Frontwoman Ditto creates an intimate rapport with the audience between each track. Be it by namechecking fans who have attended the gig, criticising the lack of brown and black in the LGBT flag which is thrown onstage or delivering impassionate dedications to seminal feminist Toni Veil, the singer reminds everyone why she and Gossip were such a seminal and overlooked group in the noughties: they were giving voice to a community severely under-represented in the alternative music scene of the decade.
When Ditto and the band come back for a three-song encore, that united community dances in utter elation at their return, blasting back every word to the ensemble’s distinctive take on George Michael’s Careless Whisper and wildly dancing to Yr Mangled Heart.
While it was a shame the moment had to end, final song Standing in the Way of Control only cemented what we all expected: this gig was more than just the perfect climax to end the Summer Series. In fact, it was the ultimate celebration of all things queer, other and outside.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Gossip’s website here.
Watch the video for Standing in the Way of Control here: