Melody Maker (9.29.79)

Live Review

Odeon, Birmingham.

"You sound a lot warmer than you did for the Cure, why’s that?" Siouxsie addressed the chanting crush at the front of the stalls, tactlessly acknowledging the vociferous anticipation that preceded her entry in striped yellow pants and an old mac.

Severin was balletic in diaphanous red pants, drummer Budgie dominated the stage from a hefty platform and the Cure’s guitarist nervously kept to the wings. These are the Banshees for now, a spirited and creditable pulling-together and pooling of resources after the sudden departure of John McKay and Kenny Morris.

September in the record business is a cruel month for desertion; the deserters stand to reap the joint-credited royalties of "Join Hands" without having to lift a finger in promoting to a broader audience, captivated by "Hong Kong Garden", that needs consolidating, expanding. So go on Siouxsie, sue.

Meantime, the show goes on. Budgie, whose crafty drumming has just prevented the Slits’ "Cut" from centrifugal disintegration, was equally assured and responsively integrated with bassist Severin.

"The Staircase (Mystery)", "Switch", "Overground", and "Hong Kong Garden" held firm, counterpointing Siouxsie’s slow-motion intonation against the metallic marches and Robert Smith’s jagged guitar, hardening each song into an iron grip, the insistent, repetitive vocals building tension on tension.

Any doubts were raised by Siouxsie’s own persona - alternately scarecrow, drab, twitching puppet, prima-donna, slumped rag - rather than by the monorhythmicality of the music itself.

Unforgiveable as it was, the desertion might just (as the broader emotional range of "Icon" indicated) leave the way open for an escape from excessive mannerism and posturing. But whatever they do in the near future, Siouxsie and the Banshees are not about to disappoint any audiences; that, at least, is assured.


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