Image: Evol (Credit Michelle Roberts)
Promoters of every discipline, genre and scene will pull the 'gig of the year' line at some point. For some it comes around all too frequently, others a final act of desperation to help dwindling sales, but however it's delivered, it's very rarely true.
An industry more drawn up on hyperbole than any other (said with a sense of irony given the purpose of this website), too much hype and expectation and can often be the downfall of any show. The first Liverpool performance for potty-mouthed electro siren Peaches certainly had the potential to fall into that trap, a gig which has built up a fervent demand and an almost mythical status since the revelation earlier this year that her UK tour would stop by the coastal city for the first time.
Added to the weight of expectation was the connection she has to the promoters Evol. When they first emerged nearly two decades ago, Evol's roots were ingrained in the trashy electroclash scene that Peaches epitomised, a fact underlined by the presence of one of her musical peers, Ladytron, being so pivotal in the early development of what started off simply as a clubnight.
Since then they've solidified their status as one of the most important independent underground promoters in the UK, helping put Sound City on the map, starting their own festival in FestEVOL, and welcoming the likes of Florence and the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Animal Collective and more to the city. But Peaches has always remained an elusive charm, and if that wasn't enough, turns out the performance fell on her 50th birthday (for which the promoters baked her a cake, above). No pressure guys...
So there was a big level of expectation for this one, a grand understatement if ever there was one. The feeling of excitement proved immediately obvious from the moment we rocked up, a bitingly cold November evening the scene for a huge queue snaking round the side of the venue. It's there where we were met with the first signs of how seriously people have taken the gig, a multitude of exuberant outfits peeping out from the gig-goers huddling in from the cold.
Once inside that immediate observation is taken to new levels. Much of the crowd have honoured Peaches' trademark celebration of the disenfranchised, queer and outlandish, with an extravagance exemplified by towering queens in stilettos alongside neon-clad disciples. The soundtrack from warm up DJs No-Wave pulsates with The Streets and Daft Punk, before Peaches' show began with two gyrating dancers dressed like a sexualised reimagining of the Magic Roundabout's Dougal.
Over the course of the next near ninety minutes we were treated to one of the most fucked up cabaret shows of all time. Classics like 'Dick in the Air' and 'Operate' rubbed shoulders with newer material such as 'Vaginoplasty', but the music - a riotous ensemble of stuttering synths, jarring electro and booty bass - is almost a distraction for the on-stage antics, which seem to spiral even more fervently to the outer edges of acceptability.
At various junctures Peaches walked across the crowd (only half joking when bellowing "If you guys don't hold me the show stops"), is joined by backing dancers dressed as vaginas, and at one stage inflates a giant condom which she then climbed into, still screeching her own unique mandate of empowerment which is met with giddy squeals from the throng in front of her.
Several outfit changes involved shaggy pile overcoats, a bra with about nine breasts and simply going topless, an unrelenting tour de force of expression which had to be seen to be believed. Quite simply it was one of the most marvellous musical experiences we have ever had the privilege to be involved in; even the aforementioned cake ended up trashed as a prop.
The final component of the night's greatness though came in the shape of the venue. The Invisible Wind Factory has certainly maintained the spirit of the Kazimier, the owner's previous venture, reflected in the counter culture vibes of the attendees as well as the music on offer.
The huge ceilinged warehouse almost has a feel of Berghain about it in terms of layout, although the sharp neon detailing certainly takes that appearance in a very different direction. It felt like the perfect environment for everything the gig delivered, an expansive space that allowed the expression on offer to really come into its own.
By the time proceedings were closed with a throbbing rendition of 'Fuck the Pain Away', this felt like one of those life-affirming shows where everything aligned, the performer simply the conductor for a pulsating storm of electricity.
It's a messed up world we live in at present, the election of Trump the complete antithesis of what Peaches as an artist represents. Luckily one night in Liverpool helped restore faith and hope of a better vision of the future. One where inflatable phalluses, topless fifty-year-old singers and adoring fans screaming "dick!" reign supreme.
Like this? Try Wild Beasts confirmed for FestEvol gardens in Liverpool next year.
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