Last Night: Peaches at the Grand Ballroom

Categories: Last Night
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Friday, June 5, 2009
The Grand At The Regency

Review by Steven Gdula

Better than: Seeing the same show in a place without hardwood floors.

Just as Peaches was getting ready to deliver the money shot at her Friday night show at The Grand Ballroom, an audience member launched a water bottle at the stage, hitting the singer squarely on the forehead. Not surprisingly, she delivered an epithet-riddled outburst at the offender. The reprimand was well deserved, but it also necessary for this particular entertainer. Posturing is crucial to the Peaches persona. After a night of assuming cocksure stances, she couldn't let the idiot off without stepping up. If she had, all of that swagger would've seemed like, well, an act.

As it is, the illusion of Peaches requires some suspended disbelief. You can't lift up the curtain, tug at the beard, or throw a bottle of water, without shattering that image or spoiling the fun. Unfortunately, the unprovoked projectile did just that; it wrecked the illusion. Still, it can't be easy to recover from a clip to the head and then go back to straddling a drum kit with a twat-light blinking in your leotard to sing "Fuck The Pain Away."

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Up to that point, Peaches had scorched her way through a guitar-heavy set culled primarily from her most recent, but decidedly guitar-light, CD, I Feel Cream. The enthusiastic crowd - a more diverse mix than the gay men and young girls that formed her initial fan base - seemed better schooled in the newer material, but made the most noise for "Operate," from 2003's Fatherfucker.

Whether throwing herself into the audience for what turned out to be some not-so-spontaneous crowd-surfing or running up into the balcony to precariously straddle the rail, the performer gave good show and good voice. The potty-mouthed rhymes from her debut The Teaches of Peaches eclipsed her musical ability, but make no mistake, the woman can sing. Yet Peaches' status as a musician has remained secondary to her role as provocateur. From this side of the stage, or even the CD, it's been difficult to know where the tough talk ends and the hard walk begins. On Friday night, the crowd at The Grand got a small part of the answer to the question of her divide.

Several other, higher profile musicians have walked offstage in a huff when pelted by flying objects. Though obviously rattled, Peaches took the knocks, literally, and being a consummate performer, kept going, for better or worse. But what should've been the explosive climax of an otherwise spunky show petered out.

The diminutive singer regrouped and came back out for three serviceable encores. "I Feel Cream" might have felt a little forced, but it certainly didn't feel like it was faked.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: When the publicist for the Teaches CD sent me the advance copy years ago, she included a note that said, "Play this, you'll be so happy to be alive." She was right.

Random Detail: I was disappointed that, for a Peaches show, there weren't more boys in stiletto boots and more girls with facial hair.

By the way: Peaches' back-up band, Sweet Machine, lived up to its name.

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