Siouxsie and the Banshees Newcastle City Hall 18th June 1984
The Banshees transformation was complete. They had moved from a quickly assembled, rough, ready, raw punk band who could hardly play their instruments, and debuted with a garbled 20 minute thrash version of “The Lord’s Prayer” to a classic rock band whose repertoire ranged from dark experimental metallic discord, through psychedelia to pure pop classics and amazing hit singles like “Christine” (the strawberry girl, banana split lady 🙂 ), “Arabian Knights”; “Spellbound” and “Israel”. Add to that, by the time of this concert in 1984, a psych-tinged, goth-edged, amazing cover of the Beatles “Dear Prudence”.
Along the way things had changed again on the guitarist front. In 1982 John McGeoch suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stresses of touring and drinking. He collapsed on stage at a concert in Madrid and left the band. McGeogh’s departure left a big void; he was the perfect guitarist for the Banshees crashing, swirling textures. Souxsie paid him tribute when he passed away in 2004: “John McGeoch was my favourite guitarist of all time. He was into sound in an almost abstract way. I loved the fact that I could say, “I want this to sound like a horse falling off a cliff”, and he would know exactly what I meant. He was easily, without a shadow of a doubt, the most creative guitarist the Banshees ever had.”
To fill the void left by McGeoch, old mate Robert Smith returned to the Banshees fold. This lasted for a couple of years, until Smith found the stresses of simultaneously fronting the Cure and being a Banshee just too much. At that point, just after the release of their Hyæna album, ex Clock DVA guitarist John Valentine Carruthers joined the band.
I remember going to this gig wondering how it would work with a new guitarist. Actually it worked well, but a little of the depth and texture was lost.
Support came The Flowerpot Men, a British electronic music group who recorded a version of “Walk on Gilded Splinters”.
Setlist (this is actually the setlist from the previous night’s concert in Edinburgh): Dazzle; Cascade; Running Town; We Hunger; Melt!; Into the Light; Pointing Bone; Red Over White; Switch; Red Light; Christine; Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man; Painted Bird; Arabian Knights; Spellbound; Monitor
Encore: Dear Prudence; Helter Skelter
“Once upon a time, they might’ve burned Siouxsie Sioux at the stake or thrown her in a lake to see if she’d float with rocks tied to her ankles. Today, she’s signed to a recording contract with the hope that she’ll be the most famous witch since mother-in-law Agnes Moorehead made Elizabeth Montgomery’s husband Dick York so miserable in Bewitched.” (Roy Trakin, Creem, November 1984)
“Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It’s beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”
(Dear Prudence, Lennon & McCartney, 1968)