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Click the photo to view a slideshow from the concert. Click here for a slideshow of opening act Smoosh. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. 

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Last Night: The Pipettes at Chop Suey

Polka-dotted Brits invade Seattle!

PIPETTESsmall.jpg
Click the photo to view a slideshow from the concert. Click here for a slideshow of opening act Smoosh. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. 

The Pipettes
June 14, 2007
Chop Suey
Better Than: Spice World, the Phil Spector trial on Court TV, or most anything else one could have been doing on a Thursday night in Seattle.

"You are so talented! You are so beautiful! I LOVE YOU!!!!"  So shouted the Pipettes' self-proclaimed "biggest gay fan in the world," from the middle of the capacity all-ages crowd at Chop Suey, just a few songs into the British pop septet's hour-long set. Based on the huge amount of smiles, sweat, and shimmying going on for the duration, he spoke for pretty much everyone — gay, straight, tween, senior — there to see the Pipettes wrap up their inaugural U.S. tour with their first-ever visit to Seattle.

If you happened to read my Pipettes feature in this week's issue, or you're just on top of the latest U.K. musical exports, you know that the group — polka-dot-clad singers Gwenno, Rosay, and RiotBecki, plus their all-male backing band (guitarist and Pipettes co-founder "Monster Bobby," plus a drummer, bassist, and keyboardist) known as the Cassettes — essentially put a modern twist on the Phil Spector/Joe Meek-helmed girl-group sound of the late '50s and early '60s (think the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las, etc., crossed with Bananarama and the Spice Girls).  Although their full-length debut, We Are the Pipettes, is a blast to listen to, I was curious if the whole thing would really work in a live setting, or crumble under the weight of the concept.

I'm thrilled to say the Pipettes far exceeded my hopes, coming off charming rather than cloying, pure fun rather than purely formulaic.  Bounding onstage at 11 p.m., Gwenno (the "glamour girl," in a figure-hugging mini-dress), Rosay (the "punkish girl," in a ruffled number), and Becki (the "naughty librarian," rockin' a sort of '80s ensemble) took their places side by side at the very front, while the Cassettes — sporting matching monogrammed yellow sweater vests but otherwise looking like your average indie-rockers — settled into the shadows way at the back of the stage.  With plenty of sass and more spunk than the cheerleading championships on ESPN2, the ladies led the group through 19 songs in 60 minutes; the math tells you each was a three-minute pop gem. 

Their "big gay fan" was right:  the Pipettes looked hot, and in more ways than one — by the fourth tune, "Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me" (also the title of their brand-new, U.S.-only EP), the ladies were coated with sweat from all the classic, choreographed girl-group dance moves and the frolicking around the stage. And they're hella talented — their vocals, particularly the harmonies, were spot-on perfect. So were the Cassettes, who didn't interact at all with the singers save for some shared grins here and there, but gave the songs depth and even more life with their spry, tight playing.

The Pipettes saved the best for last, winding up with "Judy," "One Night Stand," "Dirty Mind," and their biggest hit to date, "Pull Shapes," for which they brought out openers Smoosh to jump around and dance along with them, then returned to close out the festivities with their theme song, "We Are the Pipettes."

Reporter's Notebook
Personal Bias: Yep, they're hot. And photogenic.
Random Detail: Outside the tour bus after the show, the ladies (in civilian, sans-polka-dots attire) graciously chatted with a handful of fans, posed for photos, autographed posters and biceps, and said they're planning on coming back to town in the fall.  At one point, two of the Cassettes exited the bus — one fan tried to engage them by asking if they were British, too, to which they gruffly replied "Yes," then scurried down the street, prompting the fan to yell after them, "Way to reinforce stereotypes!"
By the way: Did anyone catch the Pipettes at their in-store at Sonic Boom in Ballard yesterday?  I'm curious how all seven were able to wedge in there, not to mention pull off all the dance moves...

 
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