Siouxsie and the Banshees Newcastle City Hall 12th September 1988
In 1987 Siouxsie and the Banshees released a cover album “Through the Looking Glass” which included great versions of “This Wheel’s on Fire” which made the UK singles chart, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”. The following year they changed guitarists again, recruiting Jon Klein and keyboard player Martin McCarrick and recorded a new album “Peepshow” which featured new instrumentation including cello, accordion and horns, and were back in the charts with “Peek-a-Boo”, which was to be their last Top 20 hit in the UK. The “Peepshow” tour called at Newcastle City Hall; this was the last time that I saw the Banshees live. I don’t recall who the support act was; I know Suicide supported later in the year. It was a big production this time; Sioux: “the theme of the album and stage show had been influenced by my interest in a late ’20s/’30s vibe – Marlene Dietrich…it was a very black and white theme, and much more theatrical…I wanted to move away from rock’n’roll lighting and make more use of the stage.” Severin: “The stage set was really elaborate. We’d start the show off right at the front of the stage, and then a series of curtains would drop to the floor to reveal each band member”. Both quotes are from “Siouxsie and the Banshees: the authorised biography, by Mark Paytress (2003), which I found in a charity shop for £1.99 last week. Result 🙂 ! After the Peepshow tour the Banshees decided to take a break, with Siouxsie and Budgie going off to record a new Creatures album.
Setlist: The Last Beat of my heart; Turn to Stone; The Killing Jar; I Promise; Ornaments of Gold; Christine; This Wheel’s On Fire; Something Blue; Scarecro; Rawhead and Bloodybones; Carousel; Nightshift; Red Light; Peek-A-Boo; Rhapsody; Cities in Dust; Skin; Burn Up; Spellbound; Hong Kong Garden
Siouxsie is yet another artist who I haven’t seen for many years, and who I would love to see again. I had a ticket to see her at the Roundhouse 5 or more years ago, but couldn’t make it because of work. Big mistake.
That concludes my reflections on the Banshees. Still a few more “S”s to go yet….
Archive for the ‘Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Category
Siouxsie and the Banshees Newcastle City Hall 12th September 1988
Siouxsie and the Banshees Newcastle City Hall 12th October 1985
Siouxsie and the Banshees returned to Newcastle City Hall one year after their previous performance in 1985. This time they were previewing songs from the yet-to-be-released 7th studio album Tinderbox, their first to feature new guitarist John Valentine Carruthers. Tinderbox was to reach number 13 in the UK albums chart in 1986. Support for the UK tour was Fur Bible, the excellent dark, pysch, goth band fronted by ex-Gun Cub member Patricia Morrison who would go on to join Sisters of Mercy, and more recently, The Damned. Siouxsie had one UK chart hit in 1985, “Cities in Dust”, which would often close the set during the tour. This was the Banshees biggest and longest UK tour to date, taking them back to many places they hadn’t played in since those very early punkier days.
The tour is probably most remembered for a disaster that took place at the London concert. Towards the end of the concert, while playing Christine, Siouxsie was being her normal swirling goth princess, when she jumped, twisted herself, and fell in agony. She had dislocated her knee, and the concert was abandoned. Siouxsie was rushed to Charing Cross Hospital and her leg was set in a full plaster was applied. Ever the trooper, the show went on and the tour continued a few days later with Siouxsie, complete with cast and perched on a stool. I remember seeing her on TV, on the Whistle Test I think, with the cast singing “Cities In Dust”.
Typical setlist from the 1985 UK tour: Dazzle; Cascade; Pointing Bone; The Sweetest Chill; Cannons; Melt!; Candyman; Bring Me The Head Of Preacher Man; Lands End; Night Shift; 92º; Christine; Pulled To Bits; Switch; Arabian Knights; Painted Bird; Happy House; Cities In Dust
PS just noticed that my ticket lists the support act as being Scientists, rather than Fur Bible. I am pretty sure, however, that it was Fur Bible. But then, my memory is not so good these days and I have been known to be wrong before….
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)
Siouxsie and the Banshees Newcastle City Hall 18th August 1981
Five months later and the Banshees were back at the City Hall again, this time with a new album “JuJu”. “JuJu” was one of their most successful releases, receiving positive reviews in the music press, and a favourite with fans. Siouxise, interviewed in Sounds magazine at the time: “I rate Aretha Franklin, Nico, really like Yoko Ono’s voice…I have to hark back. Still think Jim Morrison’s got the best ’singing corpse’ voice. I want our gigs, records or whatever – to stand out as an event, to be remembered, talked about – or affect somebody after they’ve heard or seen us…You can’t listen to it as background music…it needs involvement from the listener to work properly, and that involvement sometimes brings out good things in people.”
1981 was another successful year for the Banshees in terms of singles, with “Spellbound” and “Arabian Knights” both making the UK charts. Siouxsie had transformed from the cold “ice queen of punk” into the “Mother of Goth” and the “The Woman Of A Thousand Costumes” and wild hair.
In concert the band were as impressive and stunning as ever.
I think the support for the City Hall concert may have been Linton Kwesi Johnson?
Setlist: Israel; Halloween; Spellbound; Placebo Effect; Pulled to Bits; Tenant; Night Shift; Sin in My Heart; So Unreal; Voodoo Dolly; Christine; Head Cut; Arabian Knights; Eve White/Eve Black. Encore: Happy House; Monitor
I loved the new material, you could lose yourself in the mad, swirling, trance-like madness of it all. But I also longed to see them play some of the older songs; Metal Postcard, Helter Skelter or Love in a Void; any of them would have made the show just perfect for me.
Siouxsie and the Banshess Newcastle City Hall 3rd March 1981
The Banshees’ released their second album, Join Hands in 1979 and went out on a major UK tour to promote the new album. However, a few dates into the tour drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay quit the band after an argument. Drummer Budgie was rapidly recruited from The Slits, along with guitarist Robert Smith who was borrowed from tour support band The Cure. I had a ticket for the show at Newcastle Polytechnic but the concert was sadly cancelled as Siouxsie was unwell, and it was another two years before they called at Newcastle again. By the time I saw the Banshees again, at Newcastle City Hall on 3rd March 1981, Smith had returned to the Cure and the late great John McGeoch, from Magazine, had joined on guitar. McGeoch was the perfect choice for the Banshees; he understood how to coax an amazing, innovative noise from his guitar, inventing his own scales and making imaginative use of effects. He has been described as “one of the most influential guitarists of his generation” (Perrone, 2004) and in 1996, he was listed by Mojo in their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” for his work on the Banshees song “Spellbound”.
By the time of this gig, the Banshees had released three albums: “The Scream”(1978); “Join Hands” (1979) and “Kaleidoscope” (1980), and had achieved further hit singles with “Happy House” “Christine”, “Spellbound”, and my favourite, the wonderful “Israel”, which was often their opening song. So there was plenty of new material, and the set had changed almost completely since I last saw them in concert. Support came from The Comsat Angels. The Banshees had become a considerable force, transcended the punk genre, and were a major classic rock band, and Siouxsie was elegant, scary, crazy and remained totally engaging. Although I loved the early Banshees, I think that this was their classic period and classic line-up.
Setlist: Israel; Spellbound; Arabian Knights; Christine; Tenant; Halloween; Night Shift; Paradise Place; Switch; But Not Them; Voodoo Dolly
Encore: Eve White/Eve Black; Red Over White; Happy House
Siouxsie and the Banshees Middlesbrough 13th Oct 1977, Durham 15th April 1978 & Newcastle 30th Oct 1978
Siouxsie and the Banshees Middlesbrough 13th Oct 1977, Durham 15th April 1978 & Newcastle 30th Oct 1978
The Banshees stood out from the rest of the punk bands in their style, their attitude, and the mysterious, somewhat discordant, dark noise that they made. There was an air of danger about them, depth, mysteriousness, and Siouxsie herself was stunning, a force of nature, a revelation.
I first saw the Banshees supporting Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers at Middlesbrough Town Hall on 13th October 1977. Marie and I turned up early specifically to see Siouxsie. The venue was far from full, and this was a raw, ramshackle, Banshees; still feeling their way and learning their craft. But you could see that there was something different and special about them. The uniqueness of their music, Siouxsie’s style and arrogance, their image, all shone through the amateurishness. Siouxise was full of edge that night, fearless, and obviously out to shock. She was dressed in a see-through net top, a leather cap and looked just great. She commanded the stage with crazy dancing and goose stepping. The band were very young at the time and looked it; this was the first and best line-up of the Banshees; with Sioux on vocals, Severin on bass, Kenny Morris on drums, and John McKay on guitar, before they released their first landmark album “The Scream”. I can’t be certain what they played that night, but remember being impressed. I am pretty sure they played Metal Postcard, Carcass, T Rex’s 20th Century Boy (Souxsie announced the song “From one Carcass to Another” which I remember clearly as I thought it pretty bad taste at the time, as Bolan had died just a few weeks before), Love in a Void, The Lords Prayer, and Helter Skelter. For me they were the best band of the night and I went on to see them many more times over the next few years.
The next time I saw them was at a packed Durham University Dunelm Ballroom on 15th April 1978. By now the Banshees were a proper band, a major force. The venue was packed, the crowd crazy, the Banshees loud and intense and Siouxsie pure electric magic. The evening was spoilt by trouble and fights. There was a scary edginess in the air. As we left the venue we faced a massive line of skinheads blocking the ramp leading out to the street. “We hate punks!”…mass brawls….the police soon arrived. We ran to the car and made a swift, and lucky, escape.
The Banshees first single Hong Kong Garden was released in August 1978, they were soon in the charts, and then went out on a full UK tour of major concert halls. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall on 30th October 1978. Support was Spizz Oil (did Spizz really wear a helmet and keep hitting himself on the head, or did I dream that?), and the original Human League. The concert was sold out, and the music and the performance were joyous, swirling, challenging and totally engaging. From the first crashing, discordant opening bars of Helter Skelter, through the majestic pop of Hong Kong Garden, to the closing song The Lord’s Prayer, Siouxsie had us all totally captivated. Thinking of the punk bands that I saw live at the time; The Pistols were raw, powerful, important and vital; The Clash were rocky, political, fast, furious and “meant it”, The Jam were sharp, smart, and poppy; and The Damned were simply crazy, madcap, laugh. But the Banshees were different, daring, challenging, uncompromising, and produced sounds that came from somewhere dark, adventurous, rhythmic and yet uplifting. As you might have gathered; I was a big fan.
Based on published setlists, it is likely that the Banshees set at the City Hall was something like this: Helter Skelter; The Staircase (Mystery); Mirage; Metal Postcard (Mittageisen); Jigsaw Feeling; Switch; Hong Kong Garden; Nicotine Stain; Suburban Relapse; Overground; Pure; The Lord’s Prayer. Encore: Love in a Void
“Hong Kong Garden; Tourists swarm to see your face; Confucius has a puzzling grace; Disoriented you enter in; Unleashing scent of wild jasmine.” (Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie And The Banshees, 1978)
More about the Banshees tomorrow.
Steven Severin The Cabinet of Dr Caligari Tyneside Cinema 2 June 2013
On the face of it this seemed a strange sort of event. Certainly not the usual sort of gig I would normally go along to. From the Tyneside Cinema website: “Acclaimed solo artist and founder member of the legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees, Steven Severin returns to give audiences the rare opportunity to hear his electronic score for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Capturing the surreal and enigmatic nature of the original work, Steven Severin’s score provides a synthesised, highly atmospheric soundscape for one of the most important films in the history of cinema.” This was my second visit to the Tyneside Cinema this week, and Marie came along with me on this occasion. I have been a fan of the Banshees since the early days; I always thought there was so much more to their music than simple punk. There was a dark, discordant energy to the sound they made which also matched their image; and I would guess some of that was down to Severin as well as Siouxsie. I haven’t seen Siouxsie perform for some years now, and sadly I can’t make her performances in London this month. Anyway, I had been looking forward to this chance to see a Banshee perform in my locality. I am also a fan of horror movies, so coupling a classic film of the genre with a Banshee seemed pretty good for me. In fact, I’ve never seen the Cabinet of Caligari right through, so I was looking forward to the whole experience. The performance started shortly after the advertised time of 6pm, with the lights going down in the small cinema before Severin took his place at an Apple Mac on a table by the side of the stage. The film was shown right through in all its black and white and sepia glory, as Steven delivered his electronic score, which was as haunting and dark as the surreal and disturbing images which enfolded on the screen. The film lasts around 70 minutes, and at the end Severin left the theatre as the lights went up, and the audience applauded. He did, however, hang around to sign copies of CDs which were on sale in the foyer. A different sort of “gig”, which was a nice change, and which Marie and I both enjoyed.