By Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith
I couldn’t help but think that the Scissor Sisters got a little ahead of themselves in tackling a one-and-a-half-hour show, with no opening band, in a venue as awkward as the Namba Hatch (on the 3rd floor of a cylindrical building). The room itself looked like a space ship imagined by McDonald’s: with room for 350, it’s one of the larger mid-size venues in Osaka – but with the added capacity comes more responsibility, and the Scissor Sisters aren’t a responsible band. It would be great for housing an intimate show with a skilled major act, but not a still-growing group like the Sisters.
It is always embarrassing watching a band go through puberty. What is it about the temperamental performance, the jarring song structure, and the fumbling for identity that makes it so painful? I’m not sure if they’ve just lost their footing with the release of 2006’s Ta-dah, but the Scissor Sisters seemed to be going through this adjustment period in force.
The Scissor Sisters took stage at 7:30pm, and I was wowed at first: it felt just like a Vegas stage show! The curtains swung open and singer Jake Shears came out tap-dancing, in a pinstriped suit and gorgeous hair, with his long legs cutting across the stage. Singer Ana Matronic was stuffed into a dreadful blue superhero dress, while guitarist Del Marquis was in a tight bodysuit – all the rage in Japan two years ago. Their energy lasted through quite a few disco tunes, Bee-Gees knock-offs, and their amazing singles like “Take Your Mama Out.” With such an eclectic mix of fun numbers, even the Japanese were dancing.
But within a few songs, as the banter began, they became sweaty (boy, did Shears’ hair go sour) and the novelty of their theatrics wore off. Matronic gabbed our ears off about the sex trade in Japan, and Shears made a cheap shot at politics, introducing “Laura” by dedicating it to “the First Lady, that bitch, Laura Bush.”
The worst moment of the concert had to be a power ballad that sounded like it was stolen from David Bowie’s Transformer. Shears walked to the edge of the stage, stood over the audience, and began tracing his palm in the air. Were this a movie, and I a boy searching for meaning and identity, I would have placed my hand in the air and traced with him, from afar. This would have been revolutionary and I would have discovered who I truly was. Instead I found myself… bored. Essentially, that piece sunk the night. From there on out, the Elton John homages began to drag, they stopped playing disco, and the audience returned to stone.
Perhaps the flamboyancy of gay art was merely a growing pain, in the same way that raves were to electronic music. When a kitsch band like the Scissor Sisters can’t pull off their theatrical stunts, perhaps it’s a sign that gay art has evolved past being a mix-tape of queer influence and is finally able to innovate with sophistication, like Antony and the Johnsons and Xiu Xiu, instead of plain garishness.
Or perhaps the Scissor Sisters are still discovering hair growing in places it hadn’t before. (Wow, what a Carrie Bradshaw ending.)