Live Music + Gig Reviews

Peaches @ Royal Festival Hall, London

10 April 2009

Opening the South Bank Centre’s Ether 09 events series, Merrill Nisker, aka Peaches, was playing her first London show since 2006.

Now in her early 40s, the Canadian smutstress has cleaned up her act and developed a more mature output and has began to settle down. Right?

Wrong. Tracks played from the forthcoming album I Feel Cream show that sex in its many forms is still firmly up her agenda.

What is new is a far more playful performer, backed – as on her last record – with a three-piece band. Her playfulness in a show she names after her new track Every Little Defect Gets Respect extends to several costume changes, being held aloft on a wire some 30ft above the stage and several accompanying dancers dressed as (among other things) light bulbs.

But no number of gimmicks can hide the fact that much of her older material is diluted beyond recognition. Hot Rod, one of her best tracks, is reduced to sounding like a Ting Tings b-side while Set It Off is sped up, sloppy and throwaway. A handful of new tracks show promise, the bass heavy title track I Feel Cream being a particular highlight – especially given it showcases Nisker actually singing rather than making lazy raps. But these moments are few and far between.

The venue is an odd choice for her comeback. Peaches shows have relied on the intensity and enthusiasm of the audience and, while those present here tonight are far from shy in demonstrating their adulation for their idol, it all falls flat when she is several rows of seats away.

Arguably her staple track, Fuck The Pain Away, and the encore performance of Lovertits, bask on former glories and are genuinely great fun, but this show pointed towards swansong rather than comeback.

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