Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Gossip: Live In Liverpool

Live albums are rarely necessary; they tend to be contract-fulfillers, momentum-perpetuators, or tacit admissions of creative bankruptcy. Even for a powerhouse live band like Oregon's Gossip, Live In Liverpool falls squarely into the unnecessary camp. Two years have passed since its last studio album, Standing In The Way Of Control, which enjoyed surprising popularity in the UK long after its American release. The title track became a Top 40 hit across the pond, and the hyperbolic British found a delightful Yankee curio in frontwoman Beth Ditto: a fat-and-proud lesbian with the knockout voice of a Pentecostal gospel singer. Unsurprisingly, Liverpool was released in the UK months before the U.S. The awkward shift in fortunes isn't lost on Gossip, either. When the crowd sings along to "Coal To Diamonds," Ditto sounds genuinely surprised: "I can't believe you knew the words to that song! So weird! But amazing." The crowd remains rapturous throughout the performance, and anyone who's seen Gossip understands why: Ditto is mesmerizing, the kind of fiery, immensely talented singer rarely seen in indie rock. Listeners only get half of it on Live In Liverpool, but the CD comes packaged with a DVD. Regardless, the live format suits Gossip well; "Yr Mangled Heart" and "Jealous Girls" are particularly powerful, as is the band's dance-punk reworking of George Michael's "Careless Whisper." Gossip's success, however late-arriving, is well-deserved.


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