A ‘Drag Review’
When it was announced that Rupaul’s Drag Race was bringing it’s ‘Battle of the Seasons Tour’ to Sydney I was thrilled. Such an amazing way to see so many of the Queens from past seasons, who all have very different styles of drag (plus a few surprise guests). The location was The Big Top at Luna Park, which is quite a large venue for this event, the top section was closed off so it wasn’t a ‘full’ house, so it didn’t have that super over crowded energy.
And on that note I’m just going to point out the vibe and energy for the show overall (it will be important later). At the start people are excited and the energy is high to see the queens, but this isn’t a pure ‘music concert’, ‘comedy show’, ‘burlesque’ or a ‘cabaret’ it was a mixture of all of them, which is why I’d call it a Drag Review, you get a taste of everything. This also means that kind of rock concert energy isn’t there and the vibe changed through the show. People also moved from the front during the show, not sure if people were leaving early to head to the shafterparty or if once their favourite queen had finished they just moved back.
This audience was an older audience mixed with an all ages crowd, and I think people were sitting back and simply enjoying the artistry and performances of these Queens. The appreciation of the performance wasn’t expressed through rowdiness it was more like people were just taking it all in. Plus there was a lot of really important and sombre topics covered throughout the show which affected the atmosphere.
Intro – The Queens (and Michelle Visage)
Who was present for the Sydney leg? Michelle Visage, Adore Delano, Sharon Needles, Manila Luzon, Ivy Winters, Detox, Violet Chachki, Alaska & Jinkx Monsoon. An amazing mix of performers from across the seasons, with quite a few live vocalists featured. I thought the opening group ‘Little Mermaid’ lip-synch performance was super cute and fun, with Michelle killing it in the Ursula part.
Michelle Visage is an engaging and perfect host for this event, and it’s great to see her in Australia. In addition to her amazing vocals she gave a really moving speech on supporting one another in the LGBTQ+ community, girls (and everyone) to not shame each other and to stop being hatful. All these things are sadly so relevant in our culture. You could feel that speech really moved and affected the audience. She came out later in the night and did a beautiful rendition of ‘Take a Bow’ with powerful imagery of historical LGBTQ+ protests, again you could feel the audience was moved.
Detox better get far in All Stars 2, this Queen is always amazing. Detox was smart and did her performances back to back, with a smart & sexy on stage costume change, she kept the vibe going and the audience loved it…so smart! I appreciated the lip synch to the song from Mannequin (one of my fave 80’s films) ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ and so perfectly holding the mannequin pose when the male part was singing. Genius. Then George Michael’s Too Funky, was just the right amount of funky and sexy, so good.
Winner of season 7 Violet Chachki I have never seen live before, and she is a very captivating artist. A beautifully composed striptease, with a stunning costume and perfect music equals burlesque perfection. Violet had the audience transfixed with her artistry. That was her only solo performance for the night, but it really left an impression.
Ivy Winters is another queen I haven’t seen before, but I always thought her aesthetic was really striking. Knowing that she makes all her own costumes just leaves you in wonder. Ivy sung live to ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ in an incredible red & silver capped number and toilet paper projector. She then came out later on stilts and sung her own uplifting song, which again was something the audience really responded too and felt. Singing live on stilts is one thing, and then this queen has a wardrobe reveal while on stilts! Next level stuff.
Beautiful Manila Luzon comes out in that incredible pineapple dress (never retire that look Manila it is everything) lip-synching ‘I’m Every Woman’, so much fun. And then later singing her new song ‘Ovahness’ in a super cute black and white dress with a giant sunglasses bow. Manila (and Detox) really felt like the pure fun performances at this show and I loved every minute of it.
Snatch Game & Rocky Horror feat. Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon & Sharon Needles
It makes sense to talk about these 3 queens together because they collaborated so much in the show. Snatch Game hosted by Michelle Visage was hilarious, Sharon Needles was Caitlyn Jenner, Jinkx was Liza Minnelli, Alaska was Lady Bunny and it featured our first special guest Adam Lambert! This game highlighted how quick, funny and intelligent these 3 queens are, it was insanely funny and their impersonations genius. I think I could watch Jinkx’s Liza for hours.
The four (Alaska, Jinkx, Sharon & Michelle) then came together later in the show to do a Rocky Horror Show tribute/medley which was lots of fun and highlighted all their amazing voices. They all also performed individually, Sharon early in the show did a phenomenal performance of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Alaska brought all of her weird wonderfulness to the stage for ‘Anus’ and Jinkx showed what an inspiring theatrical performer she is with a rendition of ‘Death is Just Around the Corner’.
I’ve seen Adore every time she has come out so I was very excited to see her again because she is one of my all time favourites. Looking gorgeous she came out and sang a powerful rendition of ‘Bang, Bang’, as always vocals on point. J’adore Adore.
Now this is part pains me to no end, I’m a huge Adore supporter, read back through my gushy reviews of past shows here, here and here to see. Adore came out again near the end of the show to sing ‘I Can’t Love You’ from her latest album After Party. Not long into the song you could see she was pissed and asked the crowd to ‘wake up’ and then kind of just stopped performing for a bit. You could hear people cheering (I was one of them) to try and amp it up, but I honestly didn’t know if the majority of the crowd was going to completely turn at that point and boo or something (thank god they didn’t). Remember what I said earlier about this audience and the energy, it’s not the same as a solo Adore show which is much more rock concert energy. The vibe changed from chill crowd listening to a ballad to just uncomfortable. You could feel the crowd wasn’t going to turn it up to where she wanted and she was over it.
Also this is Australia if you say ‘wake up’ and stop performing people are probably thinking ‘eh fuck you’ and then Adore’s probably thinking ‘well fuck this’ and everyone is just there not giving a fuck, which doesn’t work for anyone. She sung the rest of the song out and then exited the stage looking not in the best of moods. But just know Adore Sydney really does love you.
Oh hey Jessie J
After Adore’s second performance Michelle Visage came on the stage and introduced the second special guest for the night. After X Factor’s Adam Lambert, I thought for sure Iggy Azalea, but no it was The Voice’s Jessie J. Surprise!
Now this girl came on right after Adore’s performance, the vibe in the Big Top was cold when she came out. Full kudos to her she was able to turn it around with an energetic performance of ‘Bang, Bang’ she gave it everything and didn’t give up on the crowd. The girl can sing and perform, and thanks to her, the vibe got turned up again.
The Final Wave
The queens and Michelle came out to do their final little group lip-synch and wave goodbye. No surprise who was first to get off the stage, but I was again reminded why Detox is such an amazing queen. She walked to each corner of the stage to wave to the fans to show her appreciation, and with Ivy Winters, was the last queen off the stage. Battle of the Seasons was different but in a good way to the usual Rupaul’s Drag Race tours we get in Australia, more reserved vibe but really organised, great variety and ran to time. It really does feel like a Drag Review, it could almost be a seated event where you get to experience all the diversity and artistry that drag can bring.
Despite queueing and standing for more than 5 hours last night, @rupaulbots live show was a fantastic experience of performances, music and humour. These ladies are really true ambassadors to drag and excellent performers who work as equally hard to hone their skills. Slightly deaf as I stood next to a really loud and crazy fan, my wife – @charmainek0n #rupaulbots #shantayyoustay