Live Review & Gallery: Peaches at the Sydney Recital Hall 4.3.2023


Feminist icon and pop provocateur, Peaches will perform her seminal electroclash album ‘The Teaches of Peaches’ in full to (belatedly) celebrate its 20th anniversary at City Recital Hall tonight. The merch stand is doing a lively trade. Carried away by the buzz in the crowd I make the dubious decision to purchase a “F*ck The Pain Away” shirt.

It’s a Sold Out concert and kind of appropriate that the tickets cost $69 each. The staff of the Recital Hall are friendly and advise the seated patrons to get ready to stand, there’ll be no sitting when the concert starts, they say. And sure enough, from the moment that Peaches wanders on stage, dressed in a shocking pink ensemble, using a walking frame, wearing boob slippers and a vulva on her head, the crowd is on its feet.

Backed by an awesome band and a troupe of dancers, Peaches tears through hits like “Fuck the Pain Away” and “Boys Wanna Be Her” with fierce energy and unbridled enthusiasm. By the fourth song, she has crowd surfed 50m into the hall. A few more songs in, she scales the walls on the side of the auditorium to interact with people sitting in the dress circle. Her last foray into the crowd, during ‘Dick in the Air’ is via a huge inflatable phallus.

It’s hard to characterise the show, the costume changes come thick and fast, it’s a sensory overload. She goes from hanging boob necklace to Goldilocks hair, the dancers resplendent in vagina and merkin headwear. Part Dionysian, part circus, at one point, a flower arrangement is fashioned, making innovative use of body parts for a vase. But it never feels exploitative or tawdry, instead the whole City Hall filled, with a rainbow crowd is exhorted to embrace their passions and indulge in the joy of self-expression.

Bláthin Eckhardt strikes multiple poses, clad in black underwear and torn stockings, wielding their guitar like a menacing weapon whilst contorting their body into gymnastic poses. Eckhardt and fearsome drummer Tif Lamson are the backbone of the band, with Peaches on her ancient Roland MC-505, that she tells us she had to reprogram, including the mistakes on the original album, for these shows. They’re a formidable trio, the songs are delivered with a crunchy, contemporary feel and hectic beats that are irresistible.

Highlight of the evening is Peaches’ rendition of Celine Dion’s hit ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ (written by Jim Steinman.) She drags the song out, drawing the crowd in, but stopping just when we all want to belt out the big chorus, it’s a bit like a musical version of coitus interruptus. Peaches substitutes the lyrics of the power ballad with her own bawdy words, some so outrageous, that they have audience members reaching for their phones to Google their meaning.

Her ‘Teaches’ might be more than 20 years old but Peaches still shows an unwavering and fearless commitment to pushing boundaries and challenging norms. She talks about how the album was life changing for her as well as for many in the audience who found themselves marginalised. Times have changed since then and as Sydney World Pride parties outside, it’s clear that society has become more inclusive and accepting, but there is still work to be done.

I decide that I’ll wear the shirt that I bought with pride.

Previous Live Review: Milk - The Academy Greenroom, Dublin 03.03.2023
Next Track: Ritual Cloak envelopes us in a delicious psychedelic fugue with their new track 'Left Behind' as new EP 'Vanished in Transition' is announced.

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