Chicago Sun Times (7.30.98)

The Creatures and John Cale at Metro

July 30, 1998

By Jim Derogatis Pop Music Critic \ Chicago Sun Times

Rarely has a dark, gloomy rock 'n' roll storm cloud been needed as badly as in the midst of this too-sunny summer of teenybopper pop and forgettable hippie boogie.

John Cale and Siouxsie Sioux cast a wonderful pallor over a packed house at Metro on Wednesday, the second of a two-night stand. And they did it without relying too heavily on their oldies, focusing instead on invigorating new material.

The punk legends took turns sharing the spotlight and a backing band. Cale set the tone early on when he sang, "Say, fear's a man's best friend!"

He was joined after five songs for a duet by Siouxsie, and they continued to trade off every few songs after that for the rest of a two-hour show.

Cale hasn't fronted a bass-drums-guitar rock band in quite some time. It was a pleasure hearing him in that setting, especially because the drummer was longtime Siouxsie sidekick Budgie.

Clad in a black leather miniskirt, Budgie was the night's true star, also providing the Creatures' tribal trance grooves.

The Creatures' music was a minimal mix of drums, two basses and the occasional keyboard sample--plus of course Siouxsie's trademark wail. The last time I saw the singer with the Banshees at the Riviera, she phoned in her performance. By putting her long-running band to rest and focusing on the new group, she's challenging herself vocally and lyrically, and the old dark charisma is back.

"I want to see you all dancing around like writhing maggots," she said, her black latex gleaming in the red spotlights.

The night's highlight: the second encore, a riveting version of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs." As Cale sawed away on his famous viola and Budgie hammered a giant concert bass drum, Siouxsie relished every word of the sadomasochistic epic, playfully whipping male fans with her riding crop.

It may sound painful to you, but believe me: It was pure pleasure compared to a night with the Spice Girls.

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