Scissor Sisters : New York Bowery Ballroom

...completely out of step with everything else going in music at the dawn of 2004...

Liza Minnelli could wander onstage in feathers and false eyelashes and it wouldn’t seem weird. Because Scissor Sisters put on the kind of show that makes you look around in confusion and wonder if you’ve wandered into an alternate universe – where it makes perfect sense for a band to sound simultaneously like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Prince, Elton John, Donna Summer and ’80s baggy chancers The Farm. They’re part gay disco, part chorus line, part glam rock opera. It even feels improper to call them a band – they’re more an act, an outfit, a spectacle. Spat up unexpectedly out of the death throes of electroclash like glittery garbage, they are completely out of step with everything else going in music at the dawn of 2004.

Wearing tight leather trousers, a leather jacket (no shirt, ever) and a fedora, erstwhile go-go dancer frontman Jake Shears is camper than Casey Spooner on a catwalk, and his falsetto could rival Barry Gibb. His foil is Ana Matronic, a statuesque redhead in a one-shoulder gold lame dress who comes across as a cross between Mrs. Emma Peel and RuPaul – belting out backing vocals while whacking a tambourine. Scissor Sisters’ sexual politics are no mystery – their name is slang for lesbianism, the word [I]”fierce”[/I] is intoned repeatedly and Ana exhorts the crowd to [I]”get tested for HIV”[/I]. The fashionistas are out in force –

there’s a man with his pants pulled down so far in the back that his ass hangs out, and a girl couple with matching skunk-striped mullets and enormous fur-lined Yeti boots shimmying next to the stage. Like Pet Shop Boys, the appeal of Scissor Sisters’ humorous, knowing, celebratory pop is universal. Their resurrection of dancey 80s AOR is both indebted and innovative; tongue-in-cheek and unique.

‘Tits on the Radio’ is a euphoric dancefloor romp that evokes prime-era Prince, ‘Mary’ is a heartfelt keyboard ballad straight out of the Elton John songbook, and ‘Comfortably Numb’ turns Pink Floyd into the Bee Gees with anthemic, giddy glee. Shears and Ana Matronic’s interplay often also recalls the kitschy boy-girl bounce of The B-52’s – and indeed, the B-52’s own Fred Schneider joins them for the encore, dancing across the stage in a sparkly black satin shirt and ear-to-ear grin. As they leave the stage, you expect confetti and

balloons to fall from the ceiling. Instead, Scissor Sisters distribute enormous brassieres. This isn’t just any old party.

April Long