If you think about it, if you really have to, Petula Clark herself could be a vague sort of instructional euphemism. But from when her signature tune Downtown dies down to reveal, at balcony right, a 37-year-old woman in bacofoil burka and matching bikini yelling something about a ‘soregasm’, the entendres arrive in single units only.
Yup, in the presence of Toronto-born Merrill Beth Nisker – Peaches to you and me – even an innocently aspirational baby-boomer pop anthem like la Clark’s can suddenly acquire the smutty contours of Italian porn soundtracks. But like almost everything else attempted tonight, it, dare I say it, comes off.
At first glance the equation is pretty simple. Tight pants plus crotch-low electro beats and knowing gender reversals of rock hierarchies equals Peaches. Live, each sweaty part of the sum is writ large in pink neon. But though the girls-together choreography has the big-boot stomp of prime Kiss, no logo is necessary to announce that we are witness to, as the song says, a rockshow.
Camille Paglia once labelled Madonna as Our Lady Of Hard Work, but dear old Madge ain’t got nuthin’ on the Peaches true blue live experience. Having recently augmented her trademark electronic fuck-music with some ‘proper musicians’, the Peaches sound is now as lithe and muscular as the woman fronting the band.
With the androgynous trio of Radio Sloan, Le Tigre‘s JD Samson and, best of all, Hole‘s Samantha Maloney in situ, there’s little flab on show, musically or otherwise. Drummer Maloney slugs out the analogue side of the beats as though the snares had said her mother wore demob boots.
But back to the business in… err… hand. Though she appeared to be wearing next to bugger-all, Peaches manages to go through enough on-stage disrobing to shame a Shoreditch stripper. But get this. Yes, the saucy content does seem tailor-made to titillate a few FHM readers, but Peaches gets the best reaction from the laydeez in the crowd (of whom form around 60% of Forum’s capacity – I know. I counted).
When Peaches entreats the outgunned dudes in the audience to ‘shake their dicks’ – to the tune, funnily enough, of Shake Yer Dix – there were few shamefaced volunteers looking to oblige. That said, getting the girls to shout along with the chorus had to be the most resounding tribute to the dangly bits since Mrs. Merton managed to persuade a studio audience of old gadgeys to chant ‘penis’.
It wasn’t long (see how infectious this is?) before it was time to just get things out in the open. Yep, that old rock ‘n’ roll standby, the inflatable dick soon made its way on to the stage (cf the Rolling Stones (circa ’76) and the Beastie Boys 10 years later). Thankfully, it was disposed of pretty sharpish – the only part of the performance that flopped.
In fact, underneath all the saucy gimmickry, the Peaches show never stiffs for a minute (sorry, it’ll all be over in a minute).
By the time that plaintive, understated anthem Fuck The Pain Away made the case for Peaches’ posterity, the band had already brilliantly Quatro’d their way through some firm and juicy Peaches specials. Fresh produce like Boys Wanna Be Her, Slippery Dick and Peaches’ own Downtown song (an invitation to cunning linguists everywhere) were just merely highlights of the best rock ‘n’ roll show in town.
After the tender Stick It To The Pink died away, Peaches awarded medals to all her band – now known as The Herms. Did everyone feel they deserved them? Judging by the rapturous response, there was no need for a mass debate.
Peaches – I Feel Cream
Peaches @ Royal Festival Hall, London