Tuesday, November 6

Siouxsie at the Roundhouse//A REVIEW

It was always going to be a gamble buying tickets to see Siouxsie Sioux. She's been making music for thirty-one years, some of it has been far better than others, and with her first solo album, MantaRay, recently released she can't be expected just to play the classics.

But from the look of the crowd queuing outside the Roundhouse on November 5th for Siouxsie's third London show on her 'MantaRay And More' tour, it was obviously the 'More' that people had come for. It's no exaggaration to say that your New Thing correspondent was among the hundred youngest people in the 2,000-capacity venue, if not the fifty youngest.

So, what would Siouxsie play? That was the question on the middle-aged lips of the crowd, impatient after two slightly unsuitable support acts: crazed metal-punk from the two-piece Comanechi, and drum-backed hip-hop (of all things) from Akala, yet another one of the Intelligent British Rappers who seem to be popular at the moment, whose requests for the assembled ex-goths to 'bounce' had been recieved... badly. To say the least. I was jealous of those lucky people at Siouxsie's Astoria show who had got The Violets in support a few weeks before.

Eventually, Siouxsie's five-piece backing band assembled on the stage and began to pump out a bass-heavy, synth-laden backing which the lady herself pounced on as soon as she bounded on stage. Despite being 50 years old now, the chief Banshee moved as slinkily as she ever has, with heel kicks and dance moves (and a silver catsuit) straight from 1985. The set started with a couple of slow, synth-based tunes with Siouxsie crooning over the top, but mounted when a familiar guitar chord signalled the start of 'Arabian Knights'. This and two more songs from Juju in quick succession got the crowd moving, but soon the band had lapsed back into slower numbers, interspersed with new songs like the single 'Into A Swan', which is a stomper of a song but has worse lyrics than that infamous 'enjoy/the real McCoy' rhyme. The musicians were competent enough, but they weren't the Banshees, and what was missing for most of the central section was sheer energy.

The end of the concert saw a sudden return of the energy as 'Israel' and 'Hong Kong Garden' (probably the best song about a Chinese restaurant ever recorded) were followed by a final cover of The Doors' 'Hello, I Love You', but the flare was too sudden and too quick. In other words, I was surprised that the gig had finished just as the encores seemed to be getting going.

Looking back on the highlights ('Spellbound' in particular), it's easy to fool oneself that the concert was amazing throughout. But a little less crooner sway and a bit more punk pogo, as far as the music went, would have been good. And the gaps in the setlist ('Happy House'? 'Dear Prudence'?) were obvious. Still, it was worth seeing a punk legend in the flesh, and the high points were higher than the low points were low. Which is all you can ask for from a room full of midlife crises.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Hi there, I stumbled upon your review through Google, and while it is well written, you making a couple of incorrect assumptions.
First off, just because people are over 30 does not mean they are only there for nostalgia. In fact adults seem much more informed about her recent work.
The catsuit is contemporary and owes more to 70's glam than 80's anything.
"Monitor" is a Banshee's classic and you're the first I've ever heard who is critical of the lyric. Neither "Monitor" or "Into a Swan" have sillier lyrics than "Godzilla"
Siouxsie's new material suits her voice better and fans are happy to not hear "the greatest hits" yet again.
I've always been happy to be a spectator on Siouxsie's continuing journey of artistic expression, and well I allow myself a little nostalgia when she sings an old song, it's her progress forward that cements her iconic status.