Peaches first stint was sold out long before the posters were even hung around the streets of Berlin. Her one-woman show is based on the opera hit that put Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice on the musical maps of London and Broadway.
In her version Peaches plays all the roles and sings all the parts from Jesus to Maria Magdalena, Pilate and Judas accompanied by Chilly Gonzales on piano. The show is bare, stripped of glamour, costumes, sets and the typical Peaches high-energy interactive performance. Throughout the performance there is only enough space for the intense emotions on display when she sings.
PEACHES: ‘I wanted to give it all I had, I wanted the audience to concentrate on the songs and the emotions behind the story and not distract them by running around on stage like I normally do. The authorities thought that I would make fun of it and wanted to stop the shows.’
The authorities she refers to are the ones who hold the musical rights and who believed that Peaches wouldn’t take this show seriously and would turn it into a discomforting spectacle focused only on sexually explicit acts, an over the top punk musical. They created great waves to stop her from performing the show but then who ever tried to stop Peaches in her tracks and got away with it? Just as this Biblical story is one of treachery, political conflict and misunderstanding so to was the behind the scenes drama of this production.
However Peaches was determined to make it happen and spread the news about the entire commotion on Twitter. The German press decided it was newsworthy and their reports increased the controversy. Just like any event bad publicity is good publicity and the show eventually went ahead without any further obstructions. The production traveled to Hamburg and of course it was successful and more shows are planned for the beginning of June back in Berlin.
PEACHES: ‘The show productions were very chaotic and there were money issues involved as well. But the performances were very well received both in Berlin and in Hamburg. Now the show will tour the States and Canada at the end of the year.’
So a show that almost didn’t make it to the stage of HAU will cross continents thanks to Twitter, the press and her own determination to prove the authorities wrong. No small achievement:
PEACHES: ‘I never had the intention to make fun of it at all, like they all thought. I love the story, and I am fascinated by the music as well. I learnt all the lyrics and all the parts to the show when I was 15 and used to sing them in front of my mirror. There are no speaking parts in my show, which I love. I just sing the songs pure. For a rock opera I think it works better this way. When the theatre asked me if I was interested in performing this rock opera on their stage I said yes immediately. They gave me a great deal of support with this.’
Were many people surprised at Peaches choosing this rock opera as a performance piece in light of its subject matter? I wouldn’t have thought that the story would interest her in the slightest but I was wrong and she told me:
PEACHES: ‘It is a universal story after all and relevant to today’s society. It is a basic human story and so many people have the wrong idea about it. It is all about political, social and interpersonal issues. I believe that Mary is changed by it, that Judas became too paranoid and made it all go wrong. Pilate had the power to change the situation for Jesus but turned his back on to it. Very much like today’s politics.’
Her idea to do the show was very much supported by her dear friend and collaborator Chilly Gonzales who plays piano in the show.
PEACHES: ‘He loved the musical just as much as I did. I had no idea about this. We have known each other since 16 years and I was so surprised to find out over a cup of coffee, that he knew all the songs by heart as well. So after I told him about my intention to put this on, he asked to work with me. And I was very pleased to have him by my side as we have experienced the most intense moments putting this show together. His playing is very direct and not pretentious and wanky at all. I have some dancers to end the show as well and that’s all I bring apart from my singing.’
This second round of performances will take place due to the large demand for tickets after the success of the show’s initial performance. The show has two acts and the original musical had about 30 songs performed by many voices and characters. I asked Peaches if she planned any changes in the upcoming shows.
PEACHES: ‘Trying to memorise everything is hard enough. So no, there won’t be any changes to the show the second time around. I feel comfortable the way it is right now and I tried to leave the most boring songs out. I think we left out about five songs all together. My favourite ones are The Trial and when Jesus talks to God after he finds out he will be crucified. They are very emotional.’
Peaches will grace the stage at HAU once again with the rock opera musical, Peaches Christ Superstar, a basic human story that many other groups and musicians have covered and dealt with throughout their careers. I wondered if she was aware of the Laibach cover of the song, Peaches Christ Superstar?
PEACHES: ‘No I don’t know their version’, and when I told her that they did an entire album titled Jesus Christ Superstars, she laughed, impressed I guess.
So without any sexual innuendo or the typical high voltage energy Peaches usually brings to the stage, this show displays a rare facet of PEACHES, singing this entire rock opera in a very candid, straightforward manner, full of emotion accompanied by the piano.
It is not often that we get to see this side of a very wild performer who has traveled the world and even managed to almost be arrested in Singapore for drinking water on their subway.
PEACHES: ‘The tour in Asia was so great’, although I am sure that the authorities in many countries feared her naughty influences upon their youth and especially upon their young ladies. Peaches conforms only when she needs to without much fuss but when she has the chance to shock the world she does it with great superlative style.
She was asked to curate the last evening of the Donau FESTIVAL 2010 in Austria.
PEACHES: ‘It was such a buzz to bring all these great performers to the festival and for me to stand back and watch them perform and see how great they were. I brought over from NY, the old naked cowgirl stripper from The Times Square, Sandy Kane who is a very strong woman and performer. It was her first ever trip out of the States and she is almost 80 years old. Her lyrics are all about dick and pussy and she was so great. She played in front of 100 000 people and loved it. Then I brought over one of my favourite artists, Ssion, with whom I collaborated on the Billionaire video. Then Theo Adams Company from London whose modern ideals are shaped by the horror Hollywood glamour and then of course, Cobra Killer played too whom you know.’
Peaches left herself out?
PEACHES: ‘No, I played too, with my band, Sweet Machine. Which was great to play with them again. In Asia I toured alone. So for this occasion I was able to bring them out and rock the stage.’
After looking at the photos from the festival’s website, I believe Peaches and her Sweet Machine did indeed rock the stage in her typical manner: stage diving, walking on the heads of the audience, multiple costume changes and those outfits – my GOD, those outfits! It’s all about glamour and rock and roll.
Not much of this will be present on the stage of Peaches Christ Superstar where she will convey the emotion of the songs, unmasked and stripped bare, to simple piano accompaniment.
Once again Peaches will perform Peaches Christ Superstar at HAU theatre May 31st – June 2nd. Those who missed out on the shows last month will be thrilled at the opportunity to see her again, stripped of rock and roll but with a voice full of emotion when she graces the stage. A side to Peaches not to be missed and maybe not to be seen again soon, as she promised her commitment to rock the stages with her high energy punk electro power.