Kelly Osbourne / The Ga Ga's - Manchester Academy 2 - 26.6.03

When the Ga Ga's come on stage i'm struck by how beautiful the lead singer is. Long flowing hair, cheek bones to die for and a statuesque figure. It's only at the point my object of desire speaks that I realize that's it's a man. The absence of breasts and the deep voice gave it away. He's got androgynous features that he could quite easily be mistaken for Avril Lavigne's older sister. Gender issues discussed and confusion slipping away I focus on the music. "Replica" is a take no prisoners assault on the sense while elsewhere three part harmonies sweeten their sound. In the great tradition of rock angsty lyrics are the order of the day, yet the vibe is a cross between the best moments of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith but louder, prouder with guts and sheer brute force.

The thrashy testerone is over powering, but on the slower track "Jessica" (yes, it's another song title with a girls name which is a bit of a cliché but i'll let them off) suggest sensitivity. The vocal could be Kurt Cobain if you shut your eyes, but unlike the greasy grunger Ga Ga's won't lose their head. With youth and beauty on their side these guys have it going on. The Japanese bass player looks cool and detached in a non heroin, junkie kind of way like a young Sid Vicious. Before the band finish they treat us to a track off their EP "Breaking America" which isn't released until August. Doubtless to say it cuts the mustard. Guys I love your music, I really do but Ga Ga's, c'mon, are you serious? That name suggests you're a Queen tribute band touring Brannigans to people in football shirts, tracksuits and clothes from Macro. Lads I beg of you, phone your manager lawyer whatever, change the name of your band to something with substance, a name people will remember and is indicative of the music, do it now, it's not too late!!!

I feel really old. Everyone around me is younger. There's teenagers, people in their early to mid twenties, but still all younger than myself at 32. I feel like i've gatecrashed a school disco. The majority of people here (mostly girls) look, dress, behave and even have their make up like their idol Kelly Osbourne. Love her or loathe her there's no escape from the peroxide pixie of pop. Turn on the telly and she there either on The Osbournes or selling Doritos. That's not even mentioning CDUK, TOTP or Popworld. But I love her. She's fun, opinionated, loud and honest. In fact everything you look for in a pop star. She arrives wearing just a casual black T-shirt and jeans. Her band comprise of a cute female drummer, a goth girl on bass, a handsome heartthrob of a guitarist and of course our Kel, the feisty frontwoman. For someone so new to the game, Kelly is so natural a performer, so comfortable and natural.

The songs come thick and fast. "Disconnected" and "On The Run" crank up up the volume. Kelly asks everyone to join in when she sings her hit "Shut Up" and the poptastic "Right Here" features backing vocals from her axeman. The party atmosphere is upon us and I'm loving every minute of it. On a more serious issue "More Than Life" is a song dedicated to her mother Sharon providing emotion and devotion in equal measures.

During the encore Kelly invites a few of a her fans up on stage for her cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach". She hugs and cuddles her fans, passes the microphone around giving them a chance to sing and turning it in to a karaoke atmosphere which surely dismisses any unwarranted diva rumours. This is an inventive way of finishing a show by getting everyone involved. If her dad Ozzy is the Prince of Darkness then Kelly is surely the Princess of Paradise. I salute you lady. You're a star.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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