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Music Review: Gossip – Live In Liverpool

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With three full-length albums under their belt, Portland, Oregon-based Gossip decided it was time to show their live-performing abilities to the outside world. The result is a Lance Bangs-directed concert film of the trio playing to an intimate Liverpool crowd on July 9, 2007.

Searcy, Arkansas was the original starting place for Beth Ditto (vocals), Brace Paine (guitar), and Kathy Mendonca (drums). Bigger and brighter things would find the band that would eventually find itself a new home and a new drummer when Mendonca left in 2003. Hannah Blilie took over the percussion duties and Gossip kept on rockin.'

From the special concert, the band has released a CD/DVD combo package — the CD containing the live concert tracks and the DVD containing the live concert footage. Each format runs at the semi-regular concert length of roughly an hour, which to experience live and to listen on disc seem fine, however to see it on film is a different story.

Ditto is often in a world of her own, energetic and rambunctious enough to seemingly carry the entire band by herself. While Paine does amazing guitar work and Blilie providing ample beat support, Ditto's stage presence makes the band's live performance that much more better; it's hypnotizing because you're entranced by Ditto's vocal range and also enthralled by the true infectiousness of the band's seemingly uncomplicated songs, with "Yr Mangled Heart" and "Standing In The Way Of Control" being the set's standout tracks.

Live In Liverpool generally plays like a straight-forward concert, with little interaction between the band and audience. There are snippets of dialogue between Ditto and the crowd, but it's scarce and quite noticeable, especially when you realize the DVD runs at a short 50-minutes. Thankfully some (maybe even all) of the dialogue makes its way onto the CD portion.

It's surprisingly to see the concert run so short, especially given the band has three LPs (not to mention their EPs) in their discography and given the band performs punkish rock versions of two cover songs: Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" and Wham!'s "Careless Whisper." Having not attended the concert, it makes you wonder if the band didn't include some performed tracks. The DVD appears to run almost from concert beginning to concert end, but the CD's track list differs and it makes you wonder why.

Gripes aside, Live In Liverpool is a good dual format effort of what seemed like a fun concert. It plays a little short for a concert planned to be released as both a live CD and DVD, but what ended up on the final discs are amazing live renditions of their album hits.

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