Live Review: Peaches brings her Teaches to Manchester
By Sarah Taylor
Often categorised as a performance artist rather than simply a musician, Peaches puts on a show no attendee will ever forget.
For two hours, the pioneering producer gave audiences a virtuoso performance – rave and rock show rolled into one, equal parts camp and crude, but with all the vigour and vibrancy that defined Peaches when she burst onto the scene at the turn of the millennium with her unique blend of electronic synth beats, crunchy guitar lines, raunchy lyrics, and sex-positive feminist credentials.
She stumbles on stage, resting on a zimmer frame, a bra fastened above her breasts, and – in true Peaches fashion – a vulva-shaped hat sat at a jaunty angle and a comfy pair of titty slippers on her feet (these soon will be traded for a more practical pair of trainers). She is perhaps mocking her own age, perhaps commenting on the ageism women often face in the music industry, and wider entertainment industry.
Peaches is an excellent example of how age doesn’t matter when it comes to putting on an incredible show – at 55 years old she performs with as much energy and chutzpah as she did when she first unleashed The Teaches of Peaches on this planet back in 2000. She launches straight into ‘Set It Off’ (“Mother f*ckers wanna get with me, Lay with me, Love with me, all right”) accompanied by only her Roland synthesiser, acknowledging her DIY roots.
In an act of utter bravery, she asks for the middle section of the crowd to put their phones down for a moment. No, this isn’t some pretentious “how dare you take photos and not experience my show with your own eyes?!” moment. Peaches doesn’t mind how many pictures you take – she reposts them to her Instagram story later on. No – this is because she is about to quite literally walk across the crowd.
Now dressed in a purple glittery leotard with shoulder pads to rival Joan Collins in the 80s, she steps into the crowd, walking across a bridge made up of her audience’s hands during ‘Diddle my Skittle.’ When she inevitably wobbles, she styles it out, lying horizontally and kicking one leg-up and down.
Later she’ll go zorbing inside a giant inflatable translucent phallus during – you guessed it – ‘D*ck in the Air.’ As she struts across the crowd, only her mulleted silhouette visible, everyone goes wild for it. As she approaches the tip, she squirts water out of a hole in the end, perhaps too vulgar for the more casual audience member but the well-seasoned Peaches fans – and there are many – go wild for it!
It’s important to note just how talented Peaches is as a producer – something that is often overlooked. A pioneer of the electroclash movement, Peaches is both an exceptional electronic artist, constructing infectious dance beats, as well as a bona fide rock star. The latter description is particularly evident during ‘Boys Wanna Be Her.’ She wields a matte black St Vincent guitar, her stance is defiant, legs wide apart, donning red PVC chaps – half cowgirl, half dominatrix. Her commanding vocals and sizzling guitar lines truly set the room on fire. ‘Rock Show’ has a similar effect.
Perhaps one of the most unique moments of the night would be when two of her topless dancers don huge hairy vulva masks and jump wildly about the stage during ‘Vaginoplasty.’ With its insatiable hook, “Vaginoplasty – Nasty”, Peaches calls on the Ritz to chant “NASTY!” in a contest to be the “nastiest city!”
Not one person wears a bra during this show – that goes for the band, the dancers, and Peaches herself, who is the only one to sport nipple pasties. During one number, two of her dancers are stood bent over, bottoms poised with maybe twenty layers of underwear.
They carefully peel off each layer, completely synchronised in a sort of pass-the-parcel-cum-striptease and fling each pair across the stage to woops and cheers. Later, Peaches arrives on stage wearing a coat made entirely of hotpants. Other notable costumes include a giant blonde braid-cum-coat, and a bra made up of five prosthetic breasts.
During ‘Talk To Me’, she chases her guitarist across the stage and leans towards her drummer who turns away and presents a hand to her face. Its like a slapstick comedy scene. She introduces her 2021 single ‘P*ssy Mask’ as a “pandemic-squirt conundrum” to laughs. Sitting comfortably amongst her earlier releases, it’s pure Peaches – silly, catchy, and strangely empowering.
She sits on the stage legs spread, as three of her dancers perform all sorts of gymnastics to create a vulva shape between them. The song’s reference to Roe v Wade also feels particularly poignant – as does the moment Peaches removes a coat to reveal a leotard emblazoned with “Thank God for Abortion!”, and the brief interlude wherein a dancer glides across the stage waving a black flag with simply the word “ABORTION” across it.
We’ve progressed from the drum machine. Instead, Teddy Lamson is elevating each track with thunder and fury. The equally talented Bláthin, who is sporting an incredible Keith Flint-style hairdo on lead guitar enhances each track too, with some sizzling solos that really yield applause from the audience. Credit should also be given to Peaches’ dancers, whose names I have been unable to find, but they frankly make each performance into a piece of art.
Obviously ‘F*ck The Pain Away’ had to be the final song… until it wasn’t! The song is Peaches’ most famous for sure, and recently enjoyed renewed recognition having been featured in an episode of Netflix’s Sex Education. It’s a raucous and riotous affair with the audience mouthing every word. The stage descends into madness – at this point it’s hard to say whether a routine has been choreographed as everyone just looks like they’re having a wonderful time, a real party!
So, when Peaches and co return for a second encore, it’s a surprisingly sobering one. She sits on top of one of the speakers and belts out Celine Dion’s ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ but with a twist – some tweaks to the lyrics to make them a bit more… well, peachy!
Peaches’ stage presence is undeniably incredible. Both sonically and stylistically, The Teaches of Peaches anniversary tour is really quite something. The insanely talented touring band and dancers, along with the absurd costumes and set design, and the raw talent of Peaches make for a winning combination. What else is in The Teaches of Peaches? Its a raucous, raunchy, rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza!