On September 20th of 2019, I took a trip to one of my favourite places, Camden, to catch Jake Shears headline at the Electric Ballroom. For those who don’t know or perhaps need a refresher, Jake Shears was the frontman of the Pop group Scissor Sisters, up until they went on an indefinite hiatus in 2012. In the time since, it’s fair to say Jake went a little bit off the map for a few years before finally making a triumphant return with his self-titled solo album in 2018, which incidentally is great if you’ve not given it a listen.
Going into this show, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there’d be songs from the recent solo album and likely a smattering of Scissor Sisters favourites, but aside from that, this was reasonably new territory for me. I’m pleased to say though that I had a great time stepping a little bit outside of my comfort zone and, in a way, embracing nostalgia that I wasn’t fully aware I had.
The show was opened by a duo called ‘Crush Club’, who I unfortunately only managed to catch the last 10 minutes of. The songs I heard were definitely Dance-Pop in nature, and they were on the receiving end of a very warm reception from the crowd. I quite liked what I heard from them – although the music wasn’t necessarily much to my taste nowadays – and they were clearly full of energy and having a great time up on stage.
Jake Shears and his band on stage at the Electric Ballroom. Photo taken by Matt Dobbie
At 8PM (this was an early show!), Jake Shears took to the stage to massive applause from an audience whose energy never seemed to dip – it was actually really impressive just how up for it the crowd was! Backed by his band (which includes a saxophone player who is onstage for practically the whole show!), they launched into the not-quite-opening-track-because-of-a-short-intro of his solo album, ‘Good Friends’, a song on the subject of getting through rough times thanks to your friends. From the get go, the choruses for each song were getting massive sing-alongs from the crowd, with near enough each song of the 15-song set getting at least one deafening crowd chant.
As previously mentioned, I really enjoyed Jake’s solo album last year. At its heart, it an album that deals with life struggles and how to get through them, but in a typical jaunty manner. If you’re a Scissor Sisters fan, there’s no way you should let this album pass you by. Hearing the songs from it come to life in a live environment was a fun experience, highlights from the night being the crowd-pleasing ‘Sad Song Backwards’ and the song that immediately followed, ‘Big Bushy Moustache’ – a song about growing a huge amount of lip fur and the belief that every man should give it a go!
Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the standout moments of the night came in the form of the 5 Scissor Sisters songs played. It was incredibly surreal hearing these songs that I loved in the mid-Noughties live some 13-15 years later, but it’s given me memories I think will stay with me for a long time. We got huge singles like ‘Laura’, ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’ and – my personal favourite – ‘Take Your Mama’, which segued brilliantly into a cover of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’. As well as this, we got a deep cut from the second Scissor Sisters album (‘Ta-Dah!’) in the form of the song ‘Paul McCartney’, which was the point of the night for me that was truly special. I never thought I’d get to hear any Scissor Sisters songs live, let along that one! But the absolute highlight for me was the showstopping appearance of ‘Comfortably Numb’, effectively in this instance a cover of a cover as the Jake Shears band covered the Scissor Sisters’ cover of Pink Floyd’s original. It genuinely sent shivers down my spine as it started.
I had a really good time at this show. It was suitably camp, full of great songs and buoyed on by a crowd who honestly felt like there was nowhere else in the world they’d rather have been. The energy in the room was incredibly infectious, and Jake Shears himself exudes charisma like it’s second nature. It was clear that just as much as we were having a good time, he was also having a good time. I’d definitely recommend you go along if Jake plays near you.
I do have to be honest here at the end though. As much as I loved the stuff from his solo album, the main thing I’ve been thinking since the set ended is ‘Damn, I’d have loved to hear more Scissor Sisters songs’. I hate to be that guy, but if the Scissor Sisters ever do come back, you will definitely find me at that show!
By Matt Dobbie