mercredi, octobre 20, 2004

Siouxsie live

Siouxsie Sioux's Dream Show, Royal Festival Hall, London

By Steve Hands

20 October 2004

With eight years having passed since the official demise of the Banshees, Siouxsie Sioux's return to London, without her long-time collaborator Steve Severin, was destined to be something of a creature-feature. The Creatures side-project is now the sole focus of Siouxsie and her drumming husband Budgie, and a neat side-step before the encroaching nostalgia for all things punk reduces them to dayglo figureheads from a spikier time.

Siouxsie's porcupine barnet is now more geisha-knit than Robert Smith fireball, and the Eastern leanings are far more than cosmetic. As an artist who began her first album with a song called "Hong Kong Garden", Siouxsie has now recruited the sticks'n'skins of Leonard Eto, formerly of the Japanese Taiko band Kodo. With Eto complement- ing the tribal flash and splash of the vigorous Budgie, Siouxsie's Dream Show ushers in a percussive thunder that fair blows away the early winter chill with an exotic, visceral pummel.

If the chill had been dispelled in the audience, the heat didn't immediately transmit itself to Siouxsie's supple 47-year-old body. Angrily decrying the Festival Hall's enervating ambience ("this tombstone of a place"), Siouxsie's exhortation to "rise up, you corpses" was unnecessary. So commanding was Budgie's polyrhythmic pulse that the alumni were on their feet by the time "Dear Prudence" had psychedelicised the percussive storm five songs in.

Though augmented by the Millennia Ensemble, a 15-piece orchestra used by The Divine Comedy, the Creature/ Banshee canon retains its particular allure. Resisting the temptation to go into string-section overdrive, the orchestrations added pomp and fire to the fabulously ludicrous "Godzilla", and an autumnal resonance to "The Rapture".

As if to allay Siouxsie's fears of forever remaining in the rosy embryo of her punk past, only the chant-friendly "Cities in Dust" is guitar-led, and that dates from 1986, long after even angular post-punk had given up the situationist ghost.

With a set that can afford to leave out the likes of "Christine" and "Arabian Knights", the recent disappearance of Siouxsie from the radar is mystifying, particularly if the Reznor-like "Another Planet" and the strangely accessible "Prettiest Thing" are typical of recent Creature communications.

And "strangely accessible" is possibly the axis on which the appeal of Siouxsie turns. Morbid obsessions revealed themselves with even a cursory scan of Siouxsie lyrics. Shapes were thrown, and poses weren't so much struck as walloped. She asked to be given her "Mickey Mouse ears for Sing-along-a-Banshee", and duly obliged with a "Happy House" that hit some giddying point between meditation and agitation.

By the time Budgie joined Siouxsie at the front of the stage for an insistent "Not Forgotten", the Royal Festival Hall was in a state of exaltation. And so, too, were the wife-and-husband team. Siouxsie's earlier gripes aside, this slight return to performance was welcome not only for the faithful, but also, demonstrably, for the duo themselves. There was just enough time for the brassy swagger of "Right Now", and the torchy "Face to Face", before the band finished with another bewitching Banshee wail from the past, darkly. Spellbinding.