Siouxsie Sioux for anyone who doesn't know was one of the Sex Pistols early followers, part of the Bromley Contingent, and later forming the ultimate female fronted punk band Siouxsie And The Banshees. Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin played their first gig at the 100 Club on 20th Sept 1976, after another band had pulled out two days earlier. This band with no name and no real members played an impromptu performance of 'The Lords Prayer' with some friends - on guitar Marco Pirroni and Sid Vicious on drums. They later became known as Siouxsie and The Banshees and have had a widely publicised change of band members including Robert Smith of The Cure and Siouxsie's now ex husband Drummer Budgie. The group came to its demise in 1996 after their last studio album 'The Rapture' was released. In 1981 as an off shoot Siouxsie embarked on a project with Budgie, and became known as The Creatures. She has also collaborated with a variety of musicians since 1993 and continues to inspire and influence female musicians from all corners of the globe.
It was great news to hear that Siouxsie had been chosen by Yoko Ono to play at this years Meltdown festival at the Royal Festival Hall, with other luminaries such as Iggy Pop. I heard the date – Saturday 15th June – the day I was organising a festival in Plumstead - groan! I couldn’t go but when it was announced there was to be a second date (due to demand) I was ecstatic. All I needed was a ticket....so with ticket in hand and accompanying me was Jitka (wife of Tim from Sham 69) who had never seen Siouxsie before. I have seen her many times, having been part of the south east London crew (with a 30 year old tattoo of Siouxsie on my arm). But less of this and more of the show itself…..Viv Albertine, formerly the Slits guitarist came on as support.
I had seen and photographed Viv a few weeks earlier at Sheila Rocks Punk+ photographic book event at Rough Trade. Viv was jokingly signing autographs for people, writing ‘I shagged him “ with an arrow pointing to….”.
After twenty five years away from the music business, but in the last few years back in the limelight once more, Viv and her band managed to get the audience alive. Tracks included 'I Don’t Believe in Love', 'Still England', 'Couples are Creepy' which all went down very well. She is in a jokey mood and announces that 'Needles' wasn’t written about heroin, but rather it was about her having a successful bout of IVF treatment. My favourite is 'Confessions of a MILF' taken from 'The Vermillion Border 'album where Mick Jones from The Clash plays guitar.
After Viv's set the audience fill the seats – its getting pretty crowded, and we are all waiting for Siouxsie and her new gang to appear on stage. When the band appear we all start clapping and cheering, as Siouxsie appears on the stage everyone gives a standing ovation amidst howls of joy. Now we all know that Saturday was her first appearance in London for five years and that 'Kaleidoscope' was the third album in 1980, but would she do this again? Thankfully yes, I love this album and therefore was delighted.
Starting off with 'Happy House' the audience immediately start to sway, and the gig begins. Siouxsie was obviously the focal point to the show looked stunning in her white PVC catsuit and circular skirt designed of course by her friend of many years fashion designer Pam Hogg. The background set comprises of gigantic venetian blinds, which is so apt for the show and to the album itself – stark but effective. 'Red Light' a particular favourite of mine was fantastic. The voice, (which has become lower in tone over the years – operations and smoking have also play a part in this). The lighting, mesmeric beat and movement all helped to convey the world of an iconic and powerful female. 'Clockface' was amazing everyone was writhing as if they were in a mass orgy of sound and emotion, in fact it was like this throughout the entire show. Siouxsie being no stranger to confrontation yelled ”Fuck Off” mid song to one stupid person there – but I will not dwell on this any longer.... Playing her white teardrop guitar on some tracks, striding up and down the stage Siouxsie yet again gave the performance of her life, writhing, back stretching and swaying. high kicks and then midway pulled off her skirt revealing the Hogg catsuit.
Apart from the 'Kaleidoscope' album Siouxsie sang other numbers (setlist below). When it came to the track 'Face To Face' the Batlight shone onto the ceiling. The only track that I didn’t like was 'Careless Love' - a Jaques Brel song – out came the cane and chair. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Unlike previous gigs with Siouxsie sans Banshees the sound and performance was brilliant. Her new gang played and gelled together tremendously. Robert Brian on drums does an excellent job – though I do miss Severin's beautiful deep bass sound. (In fact my ex Michael Herbage guitarist in Department S auditioned for The Banshees many years ago.)
After a few brilliant encores the lights went up and we were all left heightened by the mood and grace that Siouxsie leaves on us mere mortals. Busy as I was taking photos throughout the gig I loved it and so did Jitka who is now in the – “I saw SIOUXSIE in concert” tribe! I am glad to say that ex Banshees – Severin and Martin McCarrick who was also there on Monday gave favourable reviews of the appearance at Meltdown – though a reunion is definitely not on the cards. All I want now is for my friend to give me the signed setlist ! One can always hope.
Eve White/Eve Black
Cities In The Dust
Face To Face
Here Comes That Day
Into A Swan
Review & photos by Rhiannon Ifans