Live Review: Peaches

She might be as barmy as ever, but there's a new-found dance edge to her mischief. Royal Festival Hall, London, Friday, April 10

hope you’re having fun,” intones the pink chiffon ostrich in the glittery gimp mask. “Because we’re going to kill you. Murder you slowly.”

Not an extract from NME’s dream journal, but the former Merrill Nisker’s opening words to London’s art-and-music festival, Ether. It’s a weird crowd, mixing counter-culture casualties and curious civvies. A blue-haired girl wearing a teapot for a hat, a man in nude body-tights and carnival mask… it’s all so divine. Behind us, a Sloaney girl asks her boyfriend, “So who is Peaches? Is she like Beth Ditto?” Well, all is about to be answered.

Arriving through the crowd, the masked minx kicks off with new track ‘Show Stopper’. It’s immediately apparent that this perv-pop pony has more tricks than you might expect. There’s a satisfyingly harder, technoid feel: the influence of SMD, Digitalism and Soulwax, her collaborators on forthcoming fourth album ‘I Feel Cream’ is clear. Stripping down to a black-and-gold jumpsuit (first of approximately 58 costume changes) for the dark and dirty ‘Mud’, she poses coquettishly on top of the speaker stacks as if they were a grand piano, rolling around in the relentless synths.

Sweat, smut and spectacle in equal measure. If the new, more transcendent emotions of the tense, Eurythmics-y ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose You’ and the euphoric, Donna Summer-meets-Chemical Brothers title track, which finds her flying around on wires like a gold-draped seraph, have us momentarily worried that Peaches is – gulp – maturing, the rampant, furiously driving ‘More’ and the playful, Prince-ish ‘Trick Or Treat’ with its line “there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of uh-uh” put our minds to rest. “I’m so excited about tonight,” she gushes. “Did you know my parents are here?” The Royal Box is lit up, and Mr and Mrs Nisker wave cheerily to a suddenly mortified crowd. As their fashion-haired, 40-year-old daughter cavorts onstage with illuminated pants, though, it’s sweet that they’re proud. And they should be.

Rather than just lech to the converted or fall back on crazy costumes and two-dimensional art-freakery (although there is a bit of painful post-show ‘theatre’, as our girl is ‘kidnapped’ offstage by drag queen DJ Jodie Harsh), Peaches has proved that she’s still got some teaches left for us, nine years on from her debut. ‘Hot Rod’, ‘Set It Off’ and ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ all get an airing, but it’s strident new robo-glam single ‘Talk To Me’ that excites most, eerie lampshade-headed dancers strutting around as Peaches belts like Joan Jett on heat. Almost inevitably, as we leave, we hear a man in high heels utter the word ‘fabulous’. He’s not wrong, you know.

Emily Mackay