September 30, 2008

This Peach Shows She is Purfect


WHAT: Peaches

WHERE: San Francisco Bathhouse Thursday

REVIEWED BY: Simon Sweetman


CANADIAN Merrill Beth Nisker records and tours under the name Peaches.

In a carefully crafted act that appears to be off-the-cuff and reckless, but is actually artfully managed, Peaches combines the best of performance-art with punk- rock, hip-hop and risque alternative-pop to thrill the audience with a relentlessly energetic tour through her three albums -- with glimpses of what lies immediately ahead (there's a new, as yet unreleased, record on the way).

Singing the first song standing on the bass drum as her band, The Sweet Machine, create a sweaty, throbbing electro-pulse for Peaches to live inside, there is never any doubt who the star of the show is as she commands attention, spitting out vitriol, stripping to change her outfits while standing on stage and creating a situation in which the eager crowd is jelly-jiggling while hanging on to every filthy word that escapes her mouth.

Peaches is most certainly the real deal, a clever musician and singer who wraps her raps in minimalist-electro beats with slashes of punk guitar and big, obvious drum stomps. It's a lot of fun, infectiously so, as she moves from the most recent album, Impeach My Bush, back to her 2000 debut, The Teaches Of Peaches, zigzagging through a career of controversy to bring happy pop melodies to an appreciative audience.

After belting out half a dozen numbers in an uber puff-sleeved outfit, Peaches takes up the guitar for Boys Wanna Be Her.

Imagine Patti Smith leading T Rex through AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and you have some idea of the infectious blend of rock's raw energy with punk's performance qualities.

But Peaches' dirty deeds are never cheap, with the singer earning her applause by crowd-surfing, pumping the crowd to join in on numbers like Two Guys (For Every Girl) and Shake Yer Dix, while prowling the stage looking for mischief to mix within the musical mayhem.

Signing off with the opening track to her debut, Peaches stood on the bass drum, the house lights down, a flash light precariously placed to signal a pulse beating in time with the thrum and throb of the backing track.

And then, during the encores, people leaped up on to the stage to be part of the controlled madness.

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