Devisers: The cast
Reviewer: Tom Finch
Drag queens. If they seem to be more ubiquitous than they were a few years ago it’s because they are. Thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race this once subversive art form is now hurtling toward the mainstream and looking fabulous while doing so. It was only a matter of time then before a drag girl band shimmered its way into the world of pop.
In Denim: World Tour the eponymous band are performing in Wembley. Or maybe they’re not, maybe they’re performing in a small studio space in Soho. Or maybe it is Wembley. Who cares? Wembley is a state of mind, you know!
Made up of five fabulous divas, in no particular order, Glamrou La Denim, Crystal, Shirley Du-Naughty, Elektra Cute (get it?) and Aphrodite Green, this girl band is a beautiful diverse mix of girls who each have a clearly defined character and personality.
The opening number, a mash-up of Lady Gaga hits is as well received as one might expect. Indeed, ignoring a few dodgy notes here and there the singing is pretty good. Some girls have stronger voices than others but they can carry a tune and some of the harmonies are pretty delightful. Crystal in particular, has a gorgeous falsetto and her solo number which pays more than a little homage to Chicago and Beyonce is the highlight of the evening.
It’s a shame other solo moments don’t always hit the same level of glitter filled ecstasy. A home workout routine isn’t as funny as it should be. There is a very interesting speech made by Glamrou, an Iraqi immigrant, as she tries to come to terms with being gay and Muslim, but it doesn’t really come to any satisfying conclusions. Her attempt to liken chemsex parties to mosques is provocative but doesn’t feel clever enough to earn its place here. However, her performance of a slowed down version of Whitney Houston’s So Emotional directed at Allah makes up for the slightly unfocused speech that precedes it.
In a way though, it’s not really about the individual girls, at its best this piece is a celebration of art, togetherness, queerness and finding the beauty in anything. At an hour it ends before it outstays its welcome and the final triumphant note feels appropriate.
The song list is eclectic including a minor key retool of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun but maybe just a few too many songs are a little too unknown. It begins to feel exclusive and not in the spirit of the evening. That said, the finale which includes all the songs you’ll hear in the last hour of a wedding reception gets everyone involved.
With a little fine-tuning, there is a great life-affirming show here. As it is, it’s good fun but may not leave a lasting impression.
Runs until 4 February 2018 | Image: Contributed