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Scissor Sisters Get Dirty in NYC

March 5, 2007 3:07 PM ET

Because we never got to see Elton John play in the '70s, we went to see the Scissors Sisters on Saturday night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. We feel safe in saying that there is no frontman in music quite like Jake Shears today — and there might never be again. Shears hit the stage wearing a yellow shirt, a white suit covered with op-art Capezio flair and a visor. (He ultimately stripped most of it off; costume changes came later, of course.) Channeling some unholy fusion of Pee-Wee Herman and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, Shears was constantly in high-energy motion: mugging, humping the stage and most of all, dancing. He hoofed like Liza Minelli, he pogo-ed like Ed Grimley, he even mimed jump-roping around the stage.

And the music? Well, the hour-and-a-quarter-long set was pretty evenly split between the band's two albums, with the accent firmly on danceable up-tempo numbers. Unfortunately, the mix was muddy for much of the show and the room seemed to dwarf the band, even when its five members were bolstered with an extra musician and a horn section.

This show, while tuneful and fun, ultimately got classified with Blink-182 in an odd subcategory of live music: Concerts that are more entertaining between songs than during them. Shears told a lewd story about his boyfriend buying Mr. Ease anal relaxing spray in London, and the resulting chamomile aroma giving new meaning to the term "tea-bagging." Meanwhile, his fellow lead singer Ana Matronic mouthed off about former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani ("fuck that guy — he's still a jerk") and Australians who complained about the band's onstage profanity: "What do you expect from a band named after a specific lesbian sex position?"

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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