U2

ZOO Station: U2 Centraal

Scissor Sisters: Rock 'n' Roll Cut Ups
By Matthew Anderson
2004.10

Getting noticed for making a gorgeous ruckus in New York is no easy feat. The Scissor Sisters, though, made it happen when Bono dropped by to hear them at the Museum of Modern Art's P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center in New York. The encounter has been widely reported, as can be expected when word gets out that a band has captured the ears of U2's omnipresent front man.

Jake Shears

That performance at the Warm Up music festival just may be the upbeat rock band's springboard to much, much bigger things as the band is now on the short list of opening act contenders for U2's upcoming world tour, although no bands have been confirmed as of press time.

With a self-titled debut album now in stores, it's too easy to either embrace or dismiss the Scissor Sisters as strictly a reincarnation of 1970s glam rock. Happily, when the band performs live, they're given the opportunity to show all their peacock colors.

The band unquestionably gives a wink and a nudge to old school glam but they are firmly planted in the new millennium. These "sisters" have their tongue planted firmly in cheek, among other places, and they just wanna have fun.

Even though the band is called Scissor Sisters, there's only one woman in the act, Ana Matronic. Her face alone can melt the coldest hearts, and when matched with her sense of humor and vocal talent, it makes her a triple threat. Consider Matronic the band's front woman, a voluptuous siren who can twist and shout with aplomb. Decked out in fishnet stockings and a Marilyn Monroe print pinned to a black dress, she's not just another backup singer. She's every bit the match for front man Jake Shears, and together they carry on like the Wonder Twins of glittery rock 'n' roll.

As for Shears, clad in tight leather pants, cowboy boots and, sometimes, a vest and funky hat, he prances about the stage with a contagious joie de vivre. Shears has a way of losing his clothing when he cuts loose; he bares his chest with a rock 'n' roll machismo that calls to mind Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, and "Joshua Tree" era Bono.

Shears is quite possibly the next Jagger—this one being a rocker who's traded in Carnaby Street for the lasciviousness of the pre-gentrified and pre-Disneyfied 42nd Street. He lacks the trademark Jagger lips, but start him up and he'll never stop.

Rounding out the band are Babydaddy and Del Marquis on the guitars and Paddy Boom on drums. Those lads prefer to leave the chitchat to Shears and Matronic, who are adept at winning audiences over with their wit and enthusiasm. If they're not strutting about, working the crowd into a tizzy, or belting out suggestive lyrics with powerful lungs, they're chatting up the crowd and proving there are brains behind those bods.

On September 20th, the group basked in the glory of Denver's Bluebird Theater, ranking it as their all-time favorite theater, one that offered them a juicy view of the juiced-up crowd packed to the Bluebird's rafters.

Shears and Matronic reveled in how the Bluebird is conveniently located next door to a porn shop, a witchcraft store, and a Jazzercise center. Matronic admitted she digs the high energy exercise method and suggested that now Denver can come out of the closet, proudly drop its official moniker as "The Mile High City" and happily refer to itself as what Matronic dubbed "The Last Bastion of Jazzercise."

It's this lighthearted method of relating to the audience that is sure to win over the toughest of crowds. Some new bands stick to the music, not daring to lift their eyes above the set list. The Sisters, though, soak up the environment and use it to their advantage. If they like something you're wearing, maybe they'll ask you if they can try it on.

Making things even more homey, if your name is Laura (the namesake of one of the Sisters' attitude-laced tunes) and it's your 22nd birthday, maybe Shears will get the crowd to sing a gusto-laden rendition of "Happy Birthday" to you as he did at the Bluebird.

The Sisters' humorous yakkity-yak served a dual purpose at the Bluebird. It also helped Shears and Matronic get a bit of a breather between energetic, and vocally straining, tunes. The group's disco rendition of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" is a wonder of high-pitched vocal endurance—seeing Shears strut his stuff and belt that one out when he's 50 will be quite a thing to behold.

To see the Sisters live is to be surrounded by a mélange of fashions, styles, and sexual preferences. There are the beautiful women, the hot pink Mohawks, the fly sunglasses; it's a potpourri of those already in the know, the tragically hip, the young and the old, the fashionably inclined and the fashionably challenged.

The key to their attraction can be summed up in one tiny word: "fun." It's a concept that easily crosses the generations; even those in front of the stage ranged in age from the early 20s to the late 50s.

But the Scissor Sisters don't do empty calorie, bubble-gum pop. That's really not fashionable in their world of Warhol-admiring hairdressers. Meshed in with the dizzy riffs is some genuinely adult humor in the lyrics. Lust, flesh, and loads of innuendo permeate the tunes, so theirs are not necessarily songs for the masses.

Nonetheless, such a band should fit in fine with U2 on the road. After all, not every band that's opened for U2 has had the mainstream appeal of No Doubt during the Elevation tour. However, the Sisters also don't shroud themselves in controversy like Public Enemy, who went on the road with ZooTV—the Sisters are a happy mix of envelope-slicing rock and pure, giddy pop.

Having staked a claim in England's clubs with the aforementioned "Comfortably Numb," and thanks to a rapturous reception from the British music press, the Scissor Sisters are an overnight sensation several years in the making. Their first live performance was in 2001.

During the ensuing years they've honed their stage presence and their music. Now they have an eclectic collection of tunes that show a fair range of musicality. "Lovers in the Backseat" is a punkish ditty featuring a driving beat and "Take Your Mama" is pop with a mind-searing, catchy chorus. At the other end of the spectrum, "Return to Oz" is an apocalyptic anthem about the fate of the Emerald City that evokes classic Elton John circa "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

Now the Sisters may well be on the verge of their close up and there's no doubt they'd be able to get the party started at a place called "Vertigo."

• Originally published at Interference.com

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