x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

With energy and charm, Scissor Sisters delight Yas crowd

The glam-rock group delighted fans with a medley of hits that kept the Flash Forum cheering and dancing.

The show was propelled by the sheer chemistry between the twin vocalist Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, who worked the crowd like old pros.
The show was propelled by the sheer chemistry between the twin vocalist Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, who worked the crowd like old pros.

It is a tough business selling records these days, what with all that downloading and the fact people enjoy purchasing only the songs they want to hear on iTunes.

Even playing live now doesn’t seem to balance the books, as performances seem to be mostly playing to the downloaders who caused the problem in the first place. And even their numbers are dwindling as they increasingly hold on to their wallets.

It seems the only way to make a tidy profit from both sides is to be one of those rare artists who cross that divide, such as Adele, who can seemingly get the attention of the youngsters and the older folk who buy a CD once a decade "because everyone’s got it".

Like the British soul singer, New York glam-pop group Scissor Sisters experienced similar fame in 2004, selling more than three million copies of their debut album. They instantly became arena acts in Europe on the back of their sweet dose of Elton John inspired pop and edgy electro-clash.

But maintaining that momentum is what is deeply impressive about the group.

While the records sales slowly dipped, it is live on stage that it becomes obvious how they became successful in the first place.

Their Thursday night performance at Yas Island's smaller venue Flash Forum - a cross between a futuristic tent and five-star garage - drew an eclectic crowd, with families mixing it up suits, clubbers and fashionistas.

A few wigs were spotted as well, including one eerily resembling a sleeping fox.

One would think it would be daunting task for a band to create some sort of communal harmony from a group who wouldn’t want to share an elevator, let alone a concert, but herein lies the key to the group's longevity.

They can be as campy and frivolous as The Village People or Frankie Goes to Hollywood or as rocking and downright cool as any band recommended by Pitchfork.

Playing against a black banner holding a 3D version of their band logo, the group burst on stage with the stomping Night Work, from their last album, immediately signaling this show would be more of a greatest hits effort than a road test of new material.

The group played a healthy selection from each album and it is hearing them together in this mixed format you can see a music evolution, as well as a darker menace lurking underneath the sugary melodies.

The melodic swagger of Laura received a slightly metallic lashing in the bridge courtesy of Del Marquis's nifty guitar work, while bassist Baby Daddy all but took the musical lead on the four-on-the floor disco stomper Any Which Way You Can.

The show was propelled by the sheer chemistry between the twin vocalist Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, who worked the crowd like old pros.

Any band is blessed if they have a compelling frontman, but the Scissor Sisters are spoiled, as both Shears and Matronic can command an audience on their own.

Shears, perhaps due to his employment as a dancer, is assigned to get the crowd moving. In Harder You Get ,the brilliantly frenetic Running Out and the sublime Take Your Mama he relentlessly marauded the stage with his energetic arsenal of shimmies, hip swivels and the old favorite running man dance routine.

While he captured his breath between songs, Matronic would take charge in the form of splendid diatribes about music and friendship – even Abu Dhabi’s gold flaked cappuccinos.

However Matronic is not just a pop-Chomsky; the flame-haired singer all but owned the stage in the fiery Kiss You Off and the set closer Filthy Gorgeous.

The group then returned from a dynamic encore beginning with the slow burning Sex and Violence (also exposing their weakness for unsubtle lyricism), the mass singalong that is I Don’t Feel Like Dancin' before finishing off with arguably the group’s most dramatic offering Invisible Light.

Supporting act Ms Dynamite – turning the traditional format on its head by taking the stage after the main act – also put on an energetic performance to the small yet enthusiastic crowd that stayed on to see her return after nearly five years out of the limelight.

She proved she lost none of her luster in the time off as she tore into socially conscious track It Takes More and the fun male baiting heard in What You Talking About and Put Him Out.

sasaeed@thenational.ae