New York Times (8.7.98)

Pop Review
Escaping Nostalgia's Trap With Artiness and Attitude
Parts of the Velvet Underground and the Banshees are soul mates.

by Ann Powers

Punk rock fashion gives its acolytes one lucky break when it comes to getting older.  When you've dyed your hair since your teens, you never have to discover you're getting gray.  Such is the case with the aggressively ageless, bottle-black-haired Siouxsie Sioux and her husband and creative partner, the bleached-blond drummer Budgie.

The English couple, whose musical ventures evolved from proto-punk to foundational Gothic rock to early modern rock during the career of Siouxsie and the Banshees, amicably disbanded that group in 1995 to avoid winding up a nostalgia act.  Performing in their other guise as The Creatures, at Life on Wednesday night, Ms. Sioux and Budgie bypassed that trap while still giving their enchanted fans the musical fix they craved.

On this tour The Creatures are joined by John Cale, another iconoclast with no intention of fading gracefully.  The former Velvet Underground violist continues to record new rock songs along with his classical projects.  He produced the last Banshees album and shares the duo's belief that the qualities of artiness and obnoxious rock attitude deserve to be reconciled. 

For this show, Mr. Cale pulled selections like "Fear" and his trademark cover of "Heartbreak Hotel" from his extensive catalogue.  He and Ms. Sioux traded the spotlight, backed by Budgie, the bassist Susan Stenger and the guitarist Mark Deffenbaugh.

A Cale ballad, "Hedda Gabler," first ushered Ms. Sioux forth to sing backup vocals; as soon as it concluded, Mr. Cale exited and Budgie shifted into high gear, his muscular pounding leading into the new "Disconnected."  That song, which uses two basses, is one of many rhythm fests The Creatures have recorded for a new album for their own label, Sioux records.

Ms. Sioux seemed delighted to be back in the sort of small club where she first found a following.  Slapping the upraised hands of her worshippers, dancing like a Kabuki actor imitating Liza Minnelli, she remained the proud and unchallenged goddess of the Gothic.  "There are no MTV kids here, I hope," she snarled.

Her low, heady singing rose to the demands of The Creatures repertory, which largely consists of long percussive chants directed by Budgie’s frenetic playing.  He sometimes moved to one of the two large bass drums at the front of the stage.  On "Thumb," a menacing road tale, only he and Ms. Sioux performed, her voice ricocheting off his beats.

The night concluded with a messy, fun foray into the Velvet Underground song "Venus in Furs," with Mr. Cale sawing away at his electric viola and Ms. Sioux howling out the verses about a demanding dominatrix.  "Bleed for me!" she commanded, relishing the punk goddess role she was born to play and has no reason to abandon.

Back to Articles