Siouxsie & the Banshees Reunion - a Review.

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So, I went to see the reunited Siouxsie & the Banshees Friday night at the Roseland Ballroom in midtown.

Let's sum it up this way, for those of you who don't want to wade through my needlessly lengthy description -- nay, diatribe -- of this particular evening's unfortunate events, let me just say this: *YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN!*

I was quite psyched up for this show. Bought tix the day they went on sale (and I'm embarassed to even disclose how much these tickets cost). Got all pumped up to see the band in action again. The last "reunion" show I went to, I believe, was The Cult. Not on their BEYOND GOOD & EVIL tour, but on the actual reunion tour prior to that -- when they weren't pushing anything new, just the old stuff for the fans. I was sorta hoping for that same experience. Hmmmmmm......

The venue was Roseland -- an old swing band ballroom that is supposedly not long for this world, being that they allegedly want to build a condominium over it. Fuck it. Let'em! I've never really liked the place. The floor is layed out terribly -- the stage as it one end of a giant oval, causing a glut of folks to get caught in the middle. They spruced it up a bit a few years ago, but it's still sterile and devoid of any ambiance. Burn it down, I say.

The opening act, we were surprised to learn, turned out to be ancient NYC proto-Punk stalwarts and groundbreaking electronic duo, Suicide. Now, let's say this: back in `76, I'm sure Suicide's singular brand of confrontational theatre scored by grating electronic mayhem was an exciting new thing. In 2002, it's just a sad, sad thing. Vega and Rev look like ancient relics up there. Gone was the surprise element. There was no discernable definition to anything, just a monotonous cacophony, iced with Vega's throaty Elvisisms. Where once this band thrived on antagonizing its audience, this was just shallow cabaret. The innovation is long dead. Watching Suicide onstage now is like witnessing a protest rally vying for the release of Nelson Mandella and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. It's over. Mission accomplished. Stop.

I could go on and on about this (and did that night), but it's not really worth going further into it, actually. Suffice it to say that Suicide could be accused of being the one thing that they never should have been -- the most damaging thing you could say about a band that was once a bold departure from everything that had come before it: *BORING*. My friend Rob said it best: "They're not a warm-up band. If anything, they're a cool-down band." Unfortunately, the tone was set.

Let me take a second to talk about the crowd. Now, I know there are still some folks out there that harbour an unwaivering adherence to all things Goth, so I'll step carefuly. While I myself am an unapologetic fan of many an old Goth band, I can't help but feel that it's all quite a bit dated now (don't feel bad -- I felt the exact same way about the neo-Ska boom here in the States a couple of years ago). Everyone got their best black gear out last night and charged up their morbid tonsorial haystacks for the proceedings. Rob and I agreed that Roseland should've let anyone who showed up wearing all white or plaid in for free and allowed'em free drinks all night. I don't mean to knock the Goths -- this was their night, after all -- but evidence of a thriving cultural life-force beyond simple nostalgia there was not.

Around 9:15, Siouxsie & the Banshees took the stage. The last time I saw them -- circa `92/`93, with the Wonder Stuff opening at the New Ritz -- the band was flanked by at least three extra players (a keyboardist/cellist, a tabla-thwacking percussionist and possibly an extra guitarist). Not so this time: Siouxsie (looking a bit stuffed into a smart stripey jacket) was flanked by Steve Severin on bass, the ageless Budgie on drums and a guitar player I didn't recognize, but he looked a bit like a portly Grant Lee Phillips (whom I'm quite sure it wasn't). That's it. No keyboards, no strings, no extras. That's it. While I applaud that back-to-basics Spartan approach for some bands, it didn't suit the proceedings this time around. Irreplaceable nuances were lost on several numbers. But, I'm getting ahead of myself....

The setlist -- and opening numbers in particular -- were off-putting. Rife with a few odd choices, the band didn't placate the fair-weather fans in the slightest. I'm not saying Siouxsie necessarily *SHOULD* have, but when you've been away for seven years, ya *MIGHT* want to kick things off with a bang to remind people why they paid $35.00 (there, I said it) to see you. Nope, the favorites -- the hits -- would have to be earned, apparently.

But, even the hits would fail. Muddled by deplorably poor sound (you really had to STRAIN to hear any definition -- for all I know, the guitar player could've been playing scales all night), the band played without any real luster. Siouxsie sounded a bit flat and avoided any real displays of effort. I don't know if she was drunk as someone else alledged, but it seemed like she was phoning it in, if ya know what I mean. I'm sure a reunion tour sounded like a giggle a couple of months ago when they thought it up, but it seems Siouxsie forgot that it would require a bit of actual effort to make it work. Wrong notes were hit. Choruses collapsed. Entire verses drowned in the dull rattle.

The crowd seemed to eat it all up: frothing Klaus Nomi-clones just happy that Siouxsie was in the same building with them. Each identically-rendered number was feted by a nation of ripped-fishnetted sychophants.

By the time Siouxsie was done slaughtering "Cities in Dust" as the underpaid butcher handles ground chuck, Rob and I were bored, hostile, drunk and not just a little depressed. So, despite the weighty price tag, despite the anticipation, despite not hearing a handful of songs we still hold dear to our hearts, despite our still unwaivering fandom for all the things Siouxsie & the Banshees formerly represented,........*WE LEFT EARLY!*

It was too much. There was nothing the band could have done to salvage the evening. I don't care if they busted into a Killing Joke medley, it wasn't going to help. Watching Siouxsie pander to the yes-men by swanning about in a sparkly bikini top didn't help either. The woman has parted with her dignity as does the serpent with its skin. So, we left....repairing to the bars of Hell's Kitchen to drown our frustrations in beer.

It's true. You can't go home again.

Alex in NYC, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

And to think they broke up for moral reasons.
Couldn't they just have done a Creatures concert instead?

Lord Custos II, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Rolling Stone Article of same concert seems to agree with Alex in NYC.

DJ Martian, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Jesus
Fucking
Wept
It's a f*ckin' Siouxsie show you know??
Alex that's an Almighty 1200 words you just wated on a bloody Goff concert.
Why man? Why? Just kill 'em all and Let Cthulhu sort them out.

john-paul, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Well, we all have our own opinions, but think of it this way -- name a band you absolutely adore that doesn't exist anymore. Now imagine their reunion (if one is possible, assuming no key members are dead or anything) and if they essentially metaphorically spat in your face at the concert you were all excited to see. Let's face it, how would you feel?

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I saw SATB last night at the Vic in Chicago. I spent over $80 and four hours of driving to see them, and I left the theater crying. The most recent song they played was "Cities In Dust" (which turned out well when I heard it, though it was odd to hear the ringing bell melody played on guitar). They essentially ignored a decade of wonderful music in favor of b-sides, obscurities, and their older, weaker (IMO) material.

I don't need a night full of their most radio-friendly tunes, but a nod to Hyaena, Peepshow, The Rapture, or Superstition would have been appreciated. I've been a fan since I was 11 years old and I feel that they didn't even bother to throw me a bone because I was unlucky enough to be born in the 70s. I was achieving consciousness while they were starting out and that, apparently, exorcises me from their chosen cadre of fans.

On the bright side, Siouxsie's voice was perfect, the energy was immpeccable, and Budgie's enthusiasm carried every song. I don't mind HOW they did it-- just WHAT they chose to do.

It was a nasty backhand knock to anyone with the temerity to enjoy their better-selling albums, their growth as a band, or their experimental adult tunes. I expected more and left feeling that I'd wasted my time and money.

Madolan, Monday, 22 April 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

sixteen years pass...

What a load of masturbatory claptrap (I don't mean the show, I mean my review). More people needed to tell me to shut the fuck up in 2002.

Alex in NYC, Thursday, 10 January 2019 22:29 (two months ago) Permalink

I think it's more that the intervening years have given you additional insight and wisdom.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 11 January 2019 00:15 (two months ago) Permalink

to remind people why they paid $35.00 (there, I said it) to see you.

Oh, 2002...

Infidels, Like Dylan In The Eighties (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 11 January 2019 00:47 (two months ago) Permalink

Fuckin' right?

Alex in NYC, Friday, 11 January 2019 02:16 (two months ago) Permalink

for what it's worth, here's one person telling you to shut the fuck up in 2019

macropuente (map), Friday, 11 January 2019 02:22 (two months ago) Permalink

Nah, too late for that.

Alex in NYC, Friday, 11 January 2019 15:00 (two months ago) Permalink

Oh wow, AlexNYC! Heck!

Anyways, I have no doubt you were right in 2002, so hey.

Mark G, Friday, 11 January 2019 15:10 (two months ago) Permalink

I think it's more that the intervening years have given you additional insight and wisdom.
― Gerald McBoing-Boing

Gerald McB OTM

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 11 January 2019 17:30 (two months ago) Permalink


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