Saturday, September 12, 1998
University of London Union
by Mark Ellins
And so to the last night of the tour.We were led to the 1st, not the 2nd floor at the ULU to witness this finale. Alan Vega, complete with his box of tricks and a guitarist, kicked off proceedings to a largely uninterested audience, with a half hour set of some of the weirdest sounds I've ever heard.
Then, at 9.15, on walked Sioux, Budgie, Susan and Mark and kicked off with a lively and beefy rendition of 2nd Floor. Budgie was hitting the skins like his life depended on it, and Susan was plucking her bass with bad intentions. Right from the start it was apparent that 3 months of touring had given the band a lot of confidence. Sioux completely immersed herself in each song and her enjoyment in performing was very evident all night. Turn It On and Take Mine followed, and as they played Tattoo, I realised what they meant when they said that they were using the 2 basses as percussion instruments. Disconnected gave way to Pluto Drive, which Sioux began by starting to sing 'Fly Me To The Moon'. This version of Pluto Drive was so much harder than the album version and much the better for it. 'Perfect: a love affair and a car crash' and then enter Budgie's percussion for Miss the Girl. It's hard to imagine that But Not Them was recorded 17 years ago but on Saturday it sounded so fresh. Mark swapped his bass for a guitar and Sioux introduced Guillotine by saying,' I heard this story about Marie Antoinette that said that after she was beheaded, her head was held up by her hair and her face was slapped until it went red' Sioux took off her black lace jacket to reveal a turquoise top to go with her multi-coloured loons. They then tore into Pinned Down and Prettiest Thing which saw Budgie coming to the front of the stage to rapturous applause. This, to my mind, is the strongest song of their new material and should do well when it's released as a single as long as it gets the airplay. I Was Me (with Budgie on guitar), B Side Ourselves (a great song live) and Exterminating Angel (epic) ended the set. The show was well paced, beginning and ending with the strongest material. We all wanted an encore, and we got what we wanted and more.
The encore could only be described as (un)easy listening. Joined by a 3 piece brass section, Sioux came on wearing a red dress with holes and slits in all the right places: she looked and sounded like a jazz chanteuse. Surprising us all with a version of Sinatra's Witchcraft, the encore took us to places new. Standing There and Murdering Mouth saw the crowd responding positively and Killing Time (dedicated to Jeff Buckley) slowed it all down, setting us up for the finale. Venus In Furs (the song Sioux was always meant to sing) was well executed and then, with the addition of a couple of backing singers, they ended the evening with Right Now and a riotous and joyous version of The Passenger. The crowd, for really the only time all night, went ape. What a way to end a great gig. For the first time in living memory, just before The Passenger, Sioux introduced the band individually and thanked everybody for what was a memorable night. What I most enjoyed about the gig was that, apart from the band being totally into what they were doing, they took chances and were imaginative in their choice of songs. A cracking way to end the tour. And so it's La La La La Lalala La until 1999.