Fischerspooner, Scala, London

The return of the electric circus

Whoopee cushions. Electric-shock handshake buzzers. Cubes of sugar with plastic bluebottles inside. Soap that makes your hands turn black. Yep, the local joke shop did well out of my pre-pubescent self.

Rubber zombie mask with one eye hanging out (I was a troubled teen). Freddy Krueger glove (I was 22 by that point and had no excuse). I could go on, but I'm only reminded of my prank-loving past because Fischerspooner look like they've been got by the young me, with a trick telescope: each member has a sooty circle around one eye.

This, somewhat disappointingly, is what passes for theatrical warpaint with Fischerspooner MkII. Budgets are, perhaps, tighter nowadays. Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner were, you see, the notorious perpetrators of The Great Synth-Rock Swindle, in which they managed to convince Ministry Of Sound to pump millions into their hyper-extravagant conceptual electro-cabaret shtick, and ended up bankrupting the label in the process.

Given that MOS is owned by James Palumbo, the Blairite, Etonian son of a Tory Lord, who tried to cash in on authentic underground club culture, we can probably applaud Warren and Casey for inadvertently fighting the good fight.

These things are, of course, relative. Having landed on their feet with a rescue deal from EMI, and with a residency at Ibiza megaclub Manumission coming up, Fischerspooner are not short of a bob or two for funding their fabulousness.

The pictures which emerged around the time of the single "Just Let Go" earlier this year, showing a chubby Casey in no make-up, suggested that Fischerspooner had just let themselves go, and squandered a sizeable chunk of the Ministry millions on pies. In the flesh, he's not exactly "skelety", as his spiritual godfather Derek Zoolander would put it. But he's buff enough to get topless and crowd-surf without fear of anyone pinching more than an inch (he then re-appears after the encores in actual Y-fronts to plug the after-party).

They may never recapture the days of live (well, mimed) spectaculars which resembled the Moscow State Circus choreographed by the ghost of Leigh Bowery. But we're still talking about a band (yes, a band, with actual instruments these days) whose singer walks out in Aladdin sleeves (further costume changes include a red-leather number), and whose members all wear Presleyesque jumpsuits. On a scale of Starsailor to Sputnik, Fischerspooner are still a seven.

Casey himself isn't averse to the occasional practical joke himself. He announces a "brand new song, not even on the album" called "Peanut Butter Express", prompting a disaffected drift to the bar among faint-hearted fans. The song they play, however, is "Emerge", a track that became bigger than the band themselves: not just a Fischerspooner anthem, but an anthem for the whole Electroclash movement. "Feels good. Looks good. Sounds good. Looks good. Feels good too..." Halfway through, Casey's ready for another tease, and stops it dead. (They play it in full a couple of songs later, when the prank victims have returned.) "That song's too old," he explains. "It's out of fashion. You should be seeing the Scissor Sisters!" Miaow.

But he does have a point. Now that the ambulance-chasing scenesters have moved on, those of us who have always loved electronic music, and always will, are free to enjoy it without having to rub shoulderpads with the fashionistas. Long may it remain so.

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