Jake ShearsArts Club 21/8/18
JAKE SHEARS is a star. That’s decided before he even appears on stage. The signs are there: band in matching dapper suits? That one’s ticked off. Name, quite literally, up in lights, as a backdrop? It’s emblazoned up there alright, along with a picture of a top hat and cane. Packed out Arts Club? Yep, we’re all delighted to be here. It all conjures up an image of a cabaret crossed with an old-style glitzy disco making his intentions for our night clear: quite simply, it’s going to be brilliant.
The party starts with a bang as Jake Shears struts on to the stage and launches in to Good Friends, his perfect teeth a beacon as he dazzles us with his moves, wit and voice. He is a talented, funny man. He’s also incredibly physically fit: anyone who can high kick his way round a stage, dancing and jumping with such energy his cummerbund flies off mid-song while remaining note perfect deserves all the plaudits they get. Great stuff. So much more than a Len Goodman seven!
Dressed in a top hat and tails, he embodies the showman, beguiling and charming us with tales of delight, debauchery and depression, each delivered with a wink and humour. Even when songs deal with a marriage breakdown and a move to New Orleans, the upbeat tempo means he comes out on top (Sad Song Backwards). As the gig goes on, the top hat and trousers are cast aside, leaving him dancing round in a leotard and fishnet tights.
He stalks the stage, partly comic, partly melodramatic. But these theatrics don’t detract from the music. The songs from his newly-released eponymous debut solo album are ones he should be justifiably proud of. They’re instantly recognisable, drawing from genres from country to musicals to rock without being derivative.
Scissor Sisters favourites Laura, Mama and I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ are interspersed through the set and every time the intro for one of them starts things move up a gear, getting even the stubborn ones in the crowd dancing. Whether you’re on the stage or in the crowd, everyone’s having a ball.
The encore sees him reappear after a costume change in a long dress and flower-emblazoned bonnet (of course it does) and he belts out Creep City and Mississippi Delta (I’m Your Man). He’s self-deprecating and seems genuinely happy and touched that his gig warrants such a big turnout, displayed as he comes off stage at one point earlier to get up close and personal with the crowd.
Even if this isn’t the type of music you’d actively put on in the house, there’s no way you can’t have a good time when faced with such wide-eyed grinning exuberance.
It’s just what’s needed: an entertaining gig with a star who knows how to hold the attention of a packed-out room, sweaty from dancing