The Show Moist Go On Luscious Jackson – The Astoria, London, April 16, 1997
by Taylor Parkes
May 3, 1997
Here’s a surprise. We’re a couple of songs shy of the end, and I can’t believe my eyes.
Imagine this: all three members of tonight’s support act, Bis, plus the middle-aged woman they take on tour with them have, seemingly without invitation, emerged from the wings, walked out to the front of the stage-the f***ing FRONT of the stage-and started dancing. Like six-year-olds. Like…like fools.
It’s a dance that defies description, a dance I had too much basic pride even to imitate for the benefit of a curious friend the next day. You know those pop videos with French and Saunders, where they think it’s hilarious to dress up as slim, pretty women and do”comedy” dancing? Well, you know that dance? Like that. And Bis are dancing it, unselfconscious as deer, right now, in front of a brim-full London Astoria, grins as wide as Wellingtons, while Luscious Jackson attempt to perform behind them. It’s beyond belief.
People all around me turn to goggle at each other with open mouths, struck dumb, unable to comprehend the sheer scale of this…this f***ing horror unfolding before them…Some cover their eyes, experiencing by proxy every agaonising inch of the shame and embarrassment of which Bis themselves are evidently incapable. I want to leave, now, but something makes me stay. I want to see what Luscious Jackson are going to do about it.
They walk over and hug them. “Ladies and gentlemen-Bis!” Right. So much for “sassy New York cool”.
It’s a little harsh to condemn Luscious Jackson for not running sabres through their friends’ ribcages, but I’d let them off a little easier if I hadn’t been so bored. See for all the talk of “organic grooves” that’s followed Luscious Jackson like an old dog since they first poked their heads above the trenches, they’ve never been much cop live. Despite assurances to the contrary, even though the records grow stronger and more blissful, this onstage shortfall isn’t something they’ve managed to alter as yet. It’s partly because they’ve never been brutal-the key to the Luscious sound is their delicacy, the shading and shadow, the way they flicker. As we all know, on the muffled, bassy stages of Britain’s premier music venues, flickering is right out. And they’ve done their best tonight, with their percussionists and DJs and such like- an entirely admirable attempt to rock.
But, ultimately, Luscious Jackson’s music works because it fuses with your own surroundings, infuses the everyday with a little fizz and creaminess, enhances rather than creates an environment. Thus, being jammed in here, forced to dance (impossible in these cramped tiers) or to stand on the spot and listen (which is pointless)- that was never going to work. Luscious Jackson’s music, incredibly natural yet faintly strange, reels like a queasy butterfly in here. It dies like a dog, sweet voices straining like a pair of nail scissors cutting through steak. That’s the trouble with this kind of coo: it precludes sweat, which means you miss a lot.
Still, we saw the alternative earlier tonight, and it’s uglier than Leicester city centre, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.
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