Review by Chloe Gynne with Photography by Gili Dailes

“I don’t have to make a choice/genderfluid- make some noise” is the opening statement of Peaches’ night at the Royal Festival Hall.

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_18

Those lyrics are an amendment to 2003 song ‘I U She’- the original lyric was ‘I like girls and I like boys’- and it feels like a natural progression. Peaches’ hyper(bi)sexual lyrics have hit the hearts of queer people for two decades now, and she’s simply improving the language for the new wave of queer inclusivity.

It’s apt, not only because this performance is kitted out with a dozen-piece backing band and two troupes of dancers of varying genders, but also because this event is in conjunction with Kiss My Genders, a Hayward Gallery exhibition that explores the same subject.

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_3

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_2

The whole show is camp; messages of inclusivity, sex-positive feminism and self-love are conveyed through spectacle after spectacle. Dancers writhe among each other, an orgy of skin and sweat. Peaches crowdsurfs with a standing audience she has somehow magicked despite the awkward seating in the Royal Festival Hall. Aerial artist Empress Stah spins gracefully, washing the light of her buttplug laser over the crowd. No song is free from theatrics.

Ever genre-fluid, Peaches flits between styles effortlessly. Crowd favourite ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’ is as punk as Iggy Pop, who pops up on a screen for ‘Kick It’. Her signature electroclash is executed perfectly in ‘AA XXX’, and her darker, more minimal side shines in ‘Free Drink Ticket’, where her seething curses to an ex-lover turn a hot room ice cold.

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_6

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_10

It would be easy for those minimal songs to get lost in such a high intensity set, but Peaches places them front and centre; for ‘Operate’, she and two bandmates perform on laser harps, each controlling one of the three sparse, simplistic components of the song. This understated approach creates one of the highlights of the set.

Moments like this exemplify the artistry of the night; there is a choreography here, pulled from drag ball culture, seedy European nightclubs, classic ballet, 80s pop, that has been well considered from start to finish.

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_17

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_28

Like any well-planned stage show, the best is saved for last. ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ is cathartic not only for the crowd, who came hoping to hear the song, but also for the stage crew who dance together, this time freely and without choreography. The beauty of Peaches is that while this well-oiled machine of a set is structured by nature, its inclusivity and joyousness has allowed self-expression and liberation to run through every moment of the performance.

The feeling is contagious; it’s impossible not to walk out feeling revolutionary. It might be a coincidence, but much of the crowd, chattier and seemingly confident than earlier as they head out to the South Bank, question whether the protest down at Westminster might still be happening, and if they should head there next.

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_24

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_27

Peaches at Royal Festival Hall, photo by Gili Dailes_22

Leave a Reply