The Gossip - Live In Liverpool (5 stars)

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The Gossip

(Columbia)

LIVE ALBUM

The Gossip may have been catapulted to fame on the back of an advert for E4 teen-soap Skins, but they’ve been playing spine-tingling gigs on the underground for years, and this live performance, recorded in Liverpool’s Carling Academy last year, proves just how electrifying the out and proud Arkansas trio can be. Kicking off with that trademark Beth Ditto gutsy roar, ‘Eyes Open’ is a powerful album opener, Ditto’s soulful, raw and passionate vocals colliding with discordant guitars and thundering drums, paving the way for 13 compelling tracks of lusty blues punk and spare, sultry ballads.

Despite their success the band stay true to their political beliefs throughout, screaming them from rooftops rather than watering them down for this high profile show. Ditto dedicates both ‘Yr Mangled Heart’ and ‘Swing Low’ to ‘the faggots, the g-a-y, the d-y-k-e-s’ – and ‘Standing in the Way Of Control’ is undoubtedly the best anthem gay marriage could ever have, the live version sounding huger and more explosive than ever before, as euphoric audience members grab at the microphone to sing a line each. While this track is an undeniable highlight, Live In Liverpool never lets up in its energy, emotion and mind-blowing display of expert musicianship; ‘Coal To Diamonds’, ‘Listen Up’ and ‘Yesterday’s News’ all sound phenomenal, as do the band’s much-discussed, stripped-down covers of Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody’ and George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’. We all know it’s really about time The Gossip released some brand new material, but until then this incendiary compilation provides the perfect stop-gap.

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