Gossip: Live Last Night

beth ditto

Live Last Night

By David Malitz

Gossip is a party band. No more, no less. And there are few better party starters than Beth Ditto. It's hard to take your eyes off the 28-year-old frontwomman, and not just because she looks like she's infiltrated both the closet and makeup kit of a top fashion designer on her way to a pre-game meeting of the Redskins offensive line. Ditto was in full ringleader mode and the few hundred fans who turned out for an after-midnight show Wednesday night at 9:30 club were treated to a performance that showcased a dynamic talent but without the songs to match her gusto.

(By the numbers synth-rock, with one serious standout, after the jump.)

Ditto played the role of queen diva in leading her quartet's by-the-numbers club rock, mostly driven by basic guitar, keyboard and synth lines. There was little musical variation, not that the enthusiastically poging crowd members seemed to mind. Four-on-the-floor beats were the norm but there was surprisingly little pizazz to the performance. Ditto clearly isn't the most acrobatic of performers but her constant motion still wasn't enough to differentiate one glossy song from the other, some that had one foot in the early-'00s dance-punk revival and the others recalling overproduced modern club fare. Her voice was the salvaging factor. As husky as she looks, she has the tender pipes of someone who wouldn't sound out of place on one of those lost '60s girl group comps, with an innocent croon that adds a bit of malicious bite when necessary, such as on "8th Wonder" which brought some needed punk spunk to the proceedings.

Closer "Standing in the Way of Control" was the kind of adrenaline-pumping rave-up that was almost too strong for its own good. Ditto contorted around the stage and spiky guitars led the way into a towering build-up during the chorus. It was so thrilling -- complete with Ditto actually stage-diving -- that it rendered most of the decent-enough rest of the set an afterthought.

(The full concert can be heard on NPR's Web site.)

By David Malitz |  October 9, 2009; 2:41 AM ET Live Last Night
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