Ladies and gentlemen!
Your master of ceremonies for tonight is Ana Matronic, a true disco diva. She’ll strut, pout and wail but she’s not a prima donna. She works well with her team of musicians and dancers and she shares her spotlight easily with her singing partner Jake Shears in the Scissor Sisters.
Together, they’ll take you high and they’ll go low, particularly when playing songs from the band’s surprisingly somber fourth album, Magic Hour. But we still have fun fun fun — well, until someone in the first row picks up their phone and starts texting. Then all bets are off.
At the second of two sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, the Scissor Sisters played a great deal of their new album but played plenty from their first three as well. But the show wasn’t the bouncing-off-the-wall dancefest you might expect, perhaps mostly due to the mellow tone of the new album. Although the packed room may have been surprisingly sedate, the crowd soaked up every song, demonstrating that the Scissor Sisters know what they are doing when they take it down a notch.
Donning what might best be described as disco camouflage, Ana and Jake opened their show with “Any Which Way,” a crowd pleaser from third album Night Work, which may be viewed as the band’s most sophisticated album. They then moved straight into the new album with selections such as “Keep Your Shoes” and “Baby Come Home” — sparkly dance numbers to be sure but definitely not the highest tempo selections.
After the third song, Matronic took to introductions, playing hostess and making snappy banter out of playing in Washington, DC, on the eve of Independence Day. She was funny and irrelevant and I cannot help but think she should host a game show on MTV some day. From there, the band stepped it up a bit with peppier dance numbers like “Kiss You Off” from their second album, Ta-Dah.
The audience was definitely in the zone, vibing to the beat of the Scissor Sisters by the time the band revisited its first self-titled album with selections like “Take Your Mama.” The band’s sound, coupled with the scattered cheers of the audience, actually made the room seem a little bigger than it was and the affect was not unlike being at an arena disco rock show somewhere much larger than the 9:30 Club’s 1,000-person capacity.
Wherever the Scissor Sisters go, they take their city with them and everything about the performance is permeated with an urbane smack of New York-ishness. Nowhere is this more true than in the new anthem, “Let’s Have A Kiki,” which lends its title to this tour. The smooth chatty beatnik call for an all-night bitch session as an excuse to have a private party became an instant favorite among Scissor Sisters fans. They played the much darker “Invisible Light” from Night Work and “Shady Love” from Magic Hour, which actually sounded much better live than with vocals from Azealia Banks in my opinion.
The main set closed out with “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” the Elton John-penned disco number off their second album for which the Scissor Sisters have become best known. Still, the band demonstrated enough musical versatility and savvy to enjoy that song while not letting it define them. While the casual music listener would quickly identify it as *the* Scissor Sisters song, the audience took it as yet another terrific albeit welcome number in the overall lineup.
Before they closed their main set however, an interesting thing happened. Ana Matronic took the opportunity between songs to berate several people in the front row who were texting and tweeting on their phones. “Don’t text in my front row!” Matronic proclaimed to one man in particular in the front row, demanding that he hand over his phone until the end of the show.
Shears diffused any tension that may have arisen from the situation with a good-natured guarantee that the man would get his phone back but the band needn’t have worried as they drew widely enthusiastic applause from the room for insisting that everyone there be present for the performance and not off in cyberspace somewhere. The audience member in question did not surrender his phone, likely out of sheer embarrassment if nothing else. But I am pretty sure I would have given up that phone out of awed respect for Matronic’s show-stopping intolerance for such behavior. (And hey, if you’re in the front row, you obviously like this band so take the opportunity to meet them and frankly apologize in person?)
The band kept the audience eating out of their hands with a well-received encore that kept up the mellow vibe of the evening.
Overall, the show was a strong performance that made good use of the slower songs off Magic Hour. Every once in a while, a band that is known for its bombastic energy needs to slow it down a little bit. In today’s touring expeditions, which are now where true performers really make their money, it’s a smart idea to have some more mellow songs to mix into your repertoire to cool things off a bit. So while the songs on the new album may not enter regular rotation at the discotheque, they are good additions to the band’s growing selection of glam and groovy hip-shakers.
So get out there and dance the next time the Scissor Sisters come back around! Just leave your phone in your pocket, ok?