Gossip at Fine Line, 10/6/12

Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

With Magic Mouth and Bonnie Montgomery
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
October 6, 2012

Gossip picked the perfect night to make their grand return to Minneapolis, as the now Portland-based dance-punk band rolled through the Fine Line on a Saturday night and found a festive, packed house eagerly waiting for them. After neglecting the area for six long years, Beth Ditto and company certainly made up for lost time by delivering a relentlessly upbeat, nearly two-hour set which not only drew from throughout their back catalog, and current album A Joyful Noise, but paid tribute to the band's myriad musical influences as well.

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Slideshow: Gossip at Fine Line, 10/6/12

Ditto admitted straight away that she (and the rest of the band) was suffering from a cold, but "we're going to persevere." And, with the help of what appeared to be a whiskey drink at her side for most of the show, Ditto's dynamic voice and boundless personality never wavered once throughout the set. The band is currently touring as a quintet, with guitarist Nathan Howdeshell and longtime drummer Hannah Billie joined by bassist Chris Sutton and keyboardist Katy Davidson, and the group was locked in and potent straight from the start, as the disco-pulse of opener "Love Long Distance" got the party started in a hurry.

The urgent churn of "8th Wonder" was complimented with a long tag of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" during the fiery coda, the first of many moments during the show where Ditto would give a tender nod to some of her favorite bands and musicians. While much of A Joyful Noise sounds glossy and overproduced, in a live setting these songs are stripped of much of their sheen and take on a fiery edge, much of that due to Ditto's impassioned vocals. So new songs like "Move In the Right Direction," "Melody Emergency," and "Get a Job" (which was dedicated to "All the rich kids...that drive you fucking crazy") all were given a bristling bite to them that is lacking on the studio versions.

Photos By Anna Gulbrandsen
After taking a veiled shot at the proliferation of competitive music talent shows in this country, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga -- "Who cares if Born This Way is a bunch of different versions of the same song? I love it," -- Ditto brought the heat on spirited versions of "Listen Up," "Four Letter Word," and "Men In Love," (featuring a subtle "I Would Die 4 U" intro) which got the many men in love in the audience dancing up a storm. While the band generated some rather simple (but unquestionably irresistible) beats and rhythms at times throughout the show, Beth's soaring vocals and inexhaustible charisma consistently carried the songs and the set, as she connected and interacted with her adoring fans throughout the entire show.

The band really had things in high gear towards the end of the set, as "Casualties of War" took on a rocking, insistent pulse, while the slow-burning "Perfect World" simply soared once the chorus kicked in as Ditto simply owned the raw emotions of the track. The band dug deep into their back catalog for an intense version of "Yesterday's News" from 2003's Movement, which Ditto introduced by saying "It's the last night of this part of our tour, and what a treat it is to end it in Minneapolis." The band then really set the place on fire with a raucous take on "Yr Mangled Heart," that proved to be a clear highlight of the set, one which Ditto didn't allow to have many low points.

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