Queens of England

Why the British love the Scissor Sisters more than we do

Now, Shears is dressing for 11,000 fans for each of three nights at an infamous arena. He tries on a shiny blue sparkling suit and deems a simple, flowing, silky white shirt too gay, even for the Scissor Sisters: "No. Too Ice Capades."

Not unlike the Ice Capades, the Wembley show is a full-fledged production, as opposed to the straightforward club sets they play in the States. As at many large-scale shows, two gigantic Jumbotron screens flank the stage, which is transformed throughout the night to create different "scenes"—there's a door that Jake walks through to mark the end of one segment; later, a giant theatrical mask drops down from the ceiling. The finale is an explosion of confetti, fittingly raining glitter on the audience. "The best thing about playing an arena is you get the sense of it as a whole show," says Matronic. "It's almost like a theater piece."

Though I've seen them play tons of clubs, they do seem better suited to arenas. "I love it, I absolutely love it," says Shears. "I just feel very at home in front of a big crowd. It's really about mesmerizing in a matter of 10 minutes at the beginning of the show, pulling that crowd in—which is a challenge."

Scissor Sisters
photo: Tricia Romano
Scissor Sisters

Each night ends with a costume change and an encore. The Sisters retreat to an eerily quiet backstage area to catch their breath before heading back out into the roar of the crowd. "The moment when we come back for the encore, and we do 'I Don't Feel Like Dancin',' and that was No. 1 here for like four weeks—to see this sea of people, everybody's hands in the air, everybody freaking out, pumping their arms, really going for it, is such a mindfuck," Matronic says. "It's like, 'Wow! Whoa! I guess they like us.' It's a Sally Field moment. 'You like me, you really like me!' "

On Saturday, they enjoy a belated traditional Thanksgiving meal, and after the show, Aimee Phillips throws a party for the entire staff and a few of the band's friends, including the actor Sir Ian McKellen, hanging out in leather pants and a sweater. Shears drinks more than usual and chain-smokes, which he will regret the next morning—and the next night.

"That show killed me!" he says after Sunday's final gig, staggering offstage with the crowd still screaming. The day had been more relaxed than the previous two; we'd gotten to the arena later, at six. But still, with a smaller, more casual wrap-up party backstage, we don't leave until 1 a.m.

I am going home the next day, exhausted from the nonstop weekend. I can't imagine how the band feels; they've been doing this for months on end. Even though the arena tour is over, the Sisters have a full week ahead of them, including TV appearances and other promotional duties. And there's still more touring to do: back-to-back New Year's Eve shows to play (in Berlin to an audience of over 1.2 million people, it turned out), along with tours of Japan and Australia, and a four-week U.S. run that starts in March.

In the gargantuan, cold cement garage of Wembley Arena, I say goodbye to Shears and the band before boarding the bus back to the hotel. I won't see them again for a while. After all, they are one of the biggest bands in the world.

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