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The Gossip

Live In Liverpool

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6 / 10 So, Beth Ditto in 2008. Is she a super-subversive riot grrrl heroine bravely infiltrating the mainstream, boldly taking her ideals to a forum larger than a few fanzine-reading fuckwits? Or an ultra sell-out who’s happily traded all them principles for a showbiz life? Swapping crass punchlines with those knobs on The Friday Night Project, sipping cocktails with Kate Moss and doing really bad duets with Mika at really, really bad awards ceremonies…

Both valid viewpoints, but what is beyond doubt is that The Gossip are now The Beth Ditto Show. A shame, because as anyone who saw any of their pre-circus gigs will attest, The Gossip used to be a collective unit in the best possible sense – Beth’s primal holler no more centre-stage than the lo-fi Zep raunch being blasted out behind it. Hunt down 2003’s ‘Undead In NYC’ if you need recorded proof. ‘Live In Liverpool’, by contrast, committed to tape on July 9, 2007, documents a time long after that Cool List topping and the subsequent Bethmania. So the screams throughout opener ‘Eyes Open’ are of the type associated with a Take That audience, not a Huggy Bear one. There are Aaliyah and George Michael covers and – of course – a distinctly more manic reception for the opening bars of ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ than for any of the other songs, and while there is still Nathan and Hannah’s amazing musicianship, there’s also still a sense that this is Big Star And Backing Band. Mainly, it’s hard to know who this record is actually for. The hardcore will find ‘Live In Liverpool’ too light while new converts would be better off delving into the treasure trove of old albums.

Moreover, releasing a so-so live album is not the best riposte to all those “but they’ve only got one song!” jibes. With the news that they’re going R&B we have no doubt the results will be brilliant. Until that happens, though…

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