Unless youve been in a coma for the last few months, youll have heard of The Gossip, a punk rock outfit from Arkansas. The band recently topped NME magazines cool list or rather their lead singer Beth Ditto did, since shes the one whos been generating headlines.
This is for three reasons. Shes overweight, shes a lesbian, and a marginal point for the mainstream media she has an amazing voice.
The Gossip played a rare free gig at HMV in Oxford Street, London, on Monday night last week. As we waited for the show to start, screens pumped out a series of pop videos featuring skinny women with skimpy clothes, gyrating their hips and looking suggestively towards the camera. The incongruity between this scene and the band were about to see is not lost on the audience, and giggles spread throughout the crowd.
The Gossips music is loud, angry and energetic, but the main thing that stands out is Beth Dittos voice. She can scream the house down for a full minute non-stop, yet in the next breath produce a rich, gospel voice and make it seem effortless.
Beth Dittos stage manner is also striking theres a complete absence of pretension. We are not watching a staged performance, but someone genuinely enjoying and getting lost in her music.
She dedicates Yr Mangled Heart to all the homosexuals or more importantly, the people who are scared of homosexuals.
The Gossip proudly declare their life dedication to action, passion and drive. Its inspirational to see a band with politics running through their lives, rather than just wearing it as a fashionable badge.
The crowd is relatively mixed older and younger, male and female. But its noticeable that there are a lot of young women here. Im glad they have a very different role model from the size zero, faceless, opinionless and talentless women that dominate the public arena today.
When a woman appears who does not fit the stereotype, its a relief. When that woman is a million miles from the stereotype, its exhilarating.