JAKE SHEARS + JESSICA WINTER – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 1.6.23
Brighton is a city well known for its glitz and glamour and that was substantially increased at the Concorde 2 when Jake Shears, ex-Scissor Sister hit town. An evening of glitz, glamour and a whole lot of good time vibes and party pop was in store, with a stage adorned with glitter balls and balloons to add to the party feel. If you wanted a good time this was the place to be and those lucky enough to be in the sold-out venue got all of that and more.
This was a night for letting off steam and leaving all your troubles at the door, stepping inside and having a good time. With Jake on board that was absolutely guaranteed. The man is a dynamo, a whirlwind who does not stop moving, dancing, gesturing, posing and preening. The venue was hot to start with, by the end it was in ‘Meltdown’ (forgive the pun, but I can’t resist).
Much as he is a revered Gay icon he has the ability to reach out across all sexualities, as clearly reflected by the audience tonight. Yet in the cauldron of the Concorde it didn’t matter who you were, or where you were from, everyone was simply united in having the best time possible; and did Jake disappoint? Of course not… This was a 100 mph all-inclusive 90 minute masterclass in pure pop showmanship.
Bounding on stage and dressed in sports gear, looking as though he was about to run the Brighton Marathon, he was the part. Red Shorts, Red and White vest, sporting a number 69, with sweat bands which were as practical on the night as they were part of the outfit, he was dressed to impress. This show acted as an opportunity to showcase his latest album, ‘Last Man Dancing’, which was not released until the day after the gig, but this didn’t matter to the crowd who were lapping up every song and dancing as though they were all old favourites, and of course there were a few of these to come as well. Recent single ‘Too Much Music’ which unsurprisingly has a strong Scissor Sisters vibe kick started the show before rolling into ‘Really Big Deal’, both tracks taken from the forthcoming opus, the latter seeing Jake bigging up his musical ego in a high tempo track which allowed him to showcase his flamboyance into a stage artform.
With Jake showing the love to Brighton, and Brighton reciprocating the first Scissor Sisters number of the night ‘Any Which Way’ from the ‘Nightwork’ album was up next before the heavy funk of hit single ‘Meltdown’ ramped the fever up higher.
Then it was back to the new album with ‘Do The Television’ which seemed as though Jake was prepared to bring a new dance craze to the masses. This was followed by ‘Voices’, with its 80’s fairlight feel which on the new album is dueted with Kylie Minogue, although tonight there was no Kylie but the phenomenal vocal talents of Amber Martin were clearly on show. This segued into the Pink Floyd song ‘Comfortably Numb’ which was covered by the Sisters on their first album, although this bears little relation to the prog rock original and is greeted fervently as any other dance classic.
As the show develops it’s clear that Jake is becoming more relaxed and his trademark vocal gymnastics are greeted with fervour by the worshipping masses, as he switches from a low tone into his strident falsetto before bouncing back in the same breath. With the band reflecting the same high energy the show developed at pace with strong funky grooves and bombastic outstanding musical showmanship for all to see, hear and enjoy.
‘Creep City’ from Jake’s first solo outing allowed the band to stretch themselves whilst he undertook his first costume change of the evening, returning in a glittering gold lamé outfit, declaring “Do I look gay in this ?”, and unsurprisingly receiving the expected and appropriate roar of approval.
Unsurprisingly the temperature rose further as the band tore into some Scissor Sister classics, with the familiar taped keyboard intro of ‘Laura’ getting the audience bouncing complete with flamboyant sax soloing, and before you could regain breath, we were partying harder to ‘Take Your Mama’ before closing with a chorus refrain of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’.
With the title track of the new album following we switched from the ‘Last Man Dancing’ to the Scissor Sisters classic ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing’ which was greeted with a hot, sweaty and heaving dance floor. ‘8 Ball’, saw a further costume change and the arrival of Jake Dupree, a Burlesque dancer who added a further twist to the evening’s entertainment, as he undertook a semi striptease much to the delight of the audience.
The set ended with ‘Invisible Light,’ the second showing from the ‘Nightwork’ album and an audience who were by now soaking up every second of the moment, reliving past times and building new memories for the future.
There was a short break before the band returned for the single encore, the Sisters ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’ which sent the audience into a further bout of rapture before bowing out.
So on tonight’s showing is Jake Shears Filthy and Gorgeous?, most definitely, …. but to quote Kenny Everett (yes, age showing), it was all in the best possible taste (well mostly), and anyway no one here tonight was going to disagree. The gig kick started the party. I’m sure somewhere in Brighton it’s still going on.
Jake Shears setlist:
‘Too Much Music’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Really Big Deal’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Any Which Way’ (Scissor Sisters – ‘Nightwork’)
‘Meltdown’ [Non-album single]
‘Do The Television’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Voices’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Comfortably Numb’ (Pink Floyd/‘Scissor Sisters’ S/T)
‘I Used To Be In Love’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Creep City’ [‘Jake Shears’ S/T]
‘Laura’ (‘Scissor Sisters’ S/T)
‘Take Your Mama’ (‘Scissor Sisters’ S/T) (Feat. ‘Freedom’ by George Michael)
‘Last Man Dancing’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’ (Scissor Sisters – ‘Ta Dah’)
‘8 Ball’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Devil Came Down The Dancefloor’ (with Amber Martin) [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Mess Of Me’ [‘Last Man Dancing’]
‘Invisible Light’ (Scissor Sisters – ‘Nightwork’)
‘Filthy/Gorgeous’ (‘Scissor Sisters’ S/T)
Support for Jake Shears came from Jessica Winter, herself no stranger to Brighton having played ‘Ruinfest’ back in September ’22 and ‘The Great Escape’ last month. With only a thirty minute slot she made the most of the time fitting in eight self penned songs, many drawn from her recent E.P. ‘Limerance.’
With no band Jessica sang to a backing tape, arriving in the baking heat, declaring how hot the venue was whilst wearing a mackintosh, which when removed after the first song, ‘I Think You’re Going To Hurt Me (So Bad)’ revealed a further mackintosh. No wonder she was hot… Not to mention the trouser suit beneath that.
Jessica has described her music as experimental and though having a clear pop feel, which is particularly driven by her soft vocal tone, there are clear elements that reveal that she is not another run of the mill pop star in waiting but rather a musical artist who likes to stretch boundaries, producing creative tunes with fluctuating and alternative soundscapes. No one song is the same and it would have been interesting to have heard these numbers played with a live band. There is a definite alternative stance to her writing and sound which cannot be simply dismissed and cried out to be listened to carefully. Whether tonight was the right environment for her I am unsure but the audience that were still arriving throughout her set seemed to be appreciative with all songs receiving strong applause throughout.
As a performer Jessica worked the stage, a solo figure, spinning her microphone stand to artistic effect whilst using costume change, and gawky mannerisms and dance moves to add additional symbolism to her pieces.
As an artist she does not appear to sit in any particular genre, and proudly can continue to call her music alternative and experimental. In that way it remains fresh and interesting, calling attention to a differing approach to songwriting that whilst engaging and danceable retains a thought provoking lyrical aside.
On this performance it is fair to say that we have a lot more to hear from her and whatever form it takes it will be interesting and creative.
Jessica Winter setlist:
‘I Think You’re Going To Hurt Me (So Bad)’
‘Like A Knife’
‘Funk This Up’
‘Do You Do You’