Peaches @ Brisbane Powerhouse, 17.02.2023
It’s one of those perfect storm nights in the Brisbane music scene, a Friday night when there’s an embarrassing abundance of riches across Brisbane’s music venues, any number of major Australian and international acts vying for your attention. Indeed, the Friday night is just the start of it, with even more over the weekend.
Was it a tough decision that we would spend our night seeing Peaches, part of the Lawrence English curated ΩHM Festival at Brisbane’s Powerhouse across the next few weeks? Not especially. It’s slightly annoying to have missed The Scientists but Peaches playing a Teaches of Peaches 20th anniversary was always going to win out. Hopefully there will be another time in the not too distant future for seeing Kim Salmon’s band play some sludgy swamp rock.
The posters on the door provide warning, presumably for the uninitiated, not that there appears to be many experiencing Peaches for the first time. “Adults Only – Contains Haze – Coarse Language – Adult Themes – Sexual References – Contains Nudity”, the posters promise us. We are not let down. As if that was ever in doubt.
The evening starts with Peaches slowly making her way across the stage in pink slippers with the use of a zimmer frame. She may be mocking the 20th anniversary of The Teaches of Peaches or just her own age but although she’s playing the role of an old woman as she makes her entrance, she’s also wearing a vulva hat headpiece in true Peaches-style. It’s not like you’d expect to age gracefully.
Once the zimmer frame has been dispatched with and Peaches has de-cloaked, opener ‘Set It Off’ turns out to be a false start thanks to technical issues. “The machine I programmed everything on. First time in fifty shows that we’ve stopped and started over,” we’re told, “The focus of tonight it the Teaches of Peaches 20th anniversary. We’re off to a good start!”
With the Roland MC-505 issues corrected, ‘Set It Off’ restarts, Peaches leading the “Motherfuckers wanna get with me, Lay with me, Love with me, ALRIGHT” call and response with the audience through the song. “Who was at the BDO in 2001?” we’re asked, with the crowd reaction confirming what was already apparent as the room filled up before the show started, that there’s a definite age demographic out in force tonight. “Is this too much? It’s just the first song, can you handle it?” we’re teased.
The vulva hat is removed at the end of the first song, Peaches showing off her impressive mullet with a flick of her head, and the first of an almost every song costume change of some description.
Over ‘Hot Rod’ and ‘Cum Undun’ the rest of the band are introduced. First guitarist Bláthin and then drummer Tif “Teddy” Lamson for the third song. I’ve never seen Peaches with a live band before, only supported by her dancers, and everything sounds so much better for it: more dynamic, more vital. Bláthin, in particular, just shreds every time she’s on stage Her guitar work is incendiary but both musicians provide ample onstage foil for Peaches over the night.
And then there’s the dancers. They first appear in ‘Sucker’, bent over facing away from the audience at the back of the stage, peeling off layer after layer of underwear in perfect synchronicity, each smaller than the one before. If I’d known what to expect, I would have kept count but it had to be well into double figures. Every time you thought it had ended, there was another layer to be removed.
Although it’s not being played in the official recorded order, the entirety of the album (minus the one song obviously being saved for the end of the night) is being played in one chunk, With Peaches beginning to count down as the song list becomes exhausted. “Only two songs left. We’ve been fanging it in the ute! You think that’s all were gonna play?” she baits before ‘Lovertits’, “Only one song left!” before ‘Felix Partz’.
The setlist then moves into a selection of songs from Fatherfucker, Impeach My Bush, I Feel Cream and Rub. Although Teaches of Peaches is the main focus, there’s no let up from either the stage or the audience as the set moves into its second half. Indeed, with the night’s expectations (mostly) over, the unexpected part of the evening really comes into its own. Not knowing what song could be coming next makes it all feel looser, less rigid, even more fun, all of which sounds preposterous as it’s Peaches we’re talking about here. This is always the downside of going to see an act play an album in full, even if tonight the order of the songs is changed around. The increased looseness from within the audience could also be the result of the increasing alcohol levels later into the evening, as extreme drunkenness seems to be a lot more evident in the crowd as the night progresses.
We’re treated to ‘Shake Yer Dix’, ‘Bodyline’, ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’ and ‘Talk To Me’ before 2021’s single ‘Pussy Mask’ The theme of the moment continues as ‘Vaginoplasty’ is introduced with the unforgettable line, “This song is about my massive cunt” and the dancers are back in full force, this time wearing vulva masks.
Earlier in the evening, the set’s fourth song, ‘Diddle My Skittle’ saw Peaches making her way out into the crowd, the audience holding her up to sing. ‘Dick In The Air’ sees her make her second trip out into the crowd, this time inside a giant inflatable penis. Only her silhouette can be seen as she makes her way to the end before spraying foam out of a small hole in the tip.
The mains set finishes with the much anticipated “Fuck The Pain Away,” Peaches introducing her band and dancers, as multiple bottles of champagne are opened, sprayed over the crowd, swigged by the performers and shared with those at the front.
The encore is a bit of a surprise; a cover of ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me’, made famous by Celine Dion but originally written by Jim Steinman for Pandora’s Box. Jim Steinman did essentially write showtunes for rockstars so it does make sense, I guess (even more so after having watched the Pandora’s Box video clip for the first time).
“The original goes for 7 minutes, I wanna make it go for 17,” is met more than enthusiastically by the crowd. I’m not keeping time so I can’t say whether it goes to plan but liberties are taken with the original’s lyrics and possibly a few more choruses are added that get filthier chorus-by-chorus. The original might include romantic sentiment such as “When I touch you like this, And I hold you like that” but the song gets the full Peaches treatment as “Touch” and “Hold” are replaced each time with everything from the likes of “Lick”, “Screw”, “Peg”, “Fist”, “Rim” and all the way through to the culmination, “Feltch”. The evening pretty much has to end at this point because how do you even start to top that?
You could have gone to any number of shows in Brisbane tonight, and although I can’t be in more than place at a time to check, it’s a fair bet that no one playing in the city tonight went harder or was more punk rock than Peaches. No one presented their uncompromised artistic vision quite like this or put on a performance that provided this much entertainment.
Every song felt like it needed a real life freeze frame at some point accompanied by a record needle scratch and some sort of “You may be wondering exactly how I ended up in this situation” narration. Peaches delivered an almost two hour collection of some of the most ridiculous and entertaining moments that you’ll ever see out on Friday night in a “Rock Show”, an absolute masterclass in how to put on a performance.
The morning after the night before, it all feels like some weird, beautiful, lucid, lurid dream. Did all of that really happen? The ticket stub in my pocket and the wristband still on my arm tells me that it did. Shows like this stay with you.