Beth Ditto: so good she makes the Germans forget about football
Despite the onslaught of football mania that’s swept Berlin over the past month, there’s still a tiny corner of the old East where Ronaldinho is less important than rock’n’roll. Yes, US punk-rock gospel marvels The Gossip are in town to distract us briefly from the Spain Vs Tunisia match with one of their life-changing live shows. Watching The Gossip without having your brain rewired is something that happens only rarely. And, judging by the reaction of the sold-out crowd that pack in to see the Olympia trio, tonight is no different.
Dressed in a black, sleeveless T-shirt and nimbly strutting across the stage with all the moves of a hot-headed panther, guitarist Nathan Howdeshell sweats and shimmies, cutting through energetically experimental riffs with machete sharpness – despite having had a wisdom tooth pulled only hours before. Then, there is bolt-of-lightning singer Beth Ditto. One of the most stunning, passionate, and soulful singers ever to grace the stage of any indie dive, Beth introduces the band’s set by asking, “Why aren’t you guys watching the football?” Then she chucks half a bottle of water in her face while re-distributing the weight of her considerable bosom through her polka dot dress. But, searing through tracks taken from their new album ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’, as well as a few oldies, songs like the LP’s title track, ‘Yr Mangled Heart’ and upcoming single ‘Listen Up!’ – this year’s ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’? – Ditto is on fire with gospel melodies. Her voice is incredible: one minute as tough and dazzling as a diamond, the next so ferociously tender it’s a blow to the senses. Shaking off sweat as if she’d just stepped out of the shower, rail tracks of mascara sliding down her cheeks, Ditto seems swept away in rapture, and the crowd are right along with her. As always, The Gossip are mind-blowing. Everyone needs to hear this band and dance like there’s no tomorrow. Mia