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Director's cut — November 2006

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November 1, 2006 by Tara Brabazon

Greetings to members and lurkers.

I have seen the future of popular music and her name is Beth Ditto.

Last month, I told members about my trip out into a cold Eastbourne night to see the legendary Chris Farlowe. Well, October promised what I hoped would be one of the greatest gigs of my life: seeing the Scissor Sisters in Brighton. Their legendary show at the Brighton Dome was saved for posterity on DVD. This night had much to live up to, and I was excited.

Unbelievably, the Scissor Sisters were mediocre on that night, held back by their fans. Now that they are part of stadium rock, the radical edge of "Take your Mama" has now become a singalong affirming the importance of spending quality time with our parents. It was good. It was not great.

But even though the Scissorhood was a drag rather than in drag, it was the opening act that changed my life. I'd heard rumbles about a three piece from the United States called Gossip. They happened to be the support for the Sisters. Out walked a five foot, fifteen stone lesbian in a seriously stretchy green dress. She wore enormous stilettos and enough eyeliner to satisfy the most hardcore of Cure fans.

She was riveting.

Then emerged from the green couture this voice, summoning fifty years of soul divas, the best of Motown and the anguish of the blues. She was Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Sandy Denny, Patti Smith and Yoko Ono in one body. She had Aretha's range, Janis's rage and Yoko's scream. She was terrific. Even better, she 'played' her stilettos. In a sparse and percussive three piece, she slammed her stilts hard into the floorboards in time to the music. The thump resonated through the room.

Within days, The Guardian newspaper was calling her 'The Next Big Thing' and putting her on the cover of their magazine. The NME named her the 'coolest rock star on the planet.' I think both these headlines are understatements. She is changing how we think about women, bodies and voices. Beth Ditto is the new normal.

Gossip is punk-pop and pop-punk. They howl and shout. Most importantly they ask questions about what it means to be in love, to be lost or to change. While the Scissor Sisters helped us party through the Iraq War, Gossip will be the soundtrack for the retribution and rehabilitation that follows.

See you all for our Christmas edition in December — and download some Gossip!