An Evening With Siouxsie

Photo by Amy TheligHouse of Blues, Anaheim Sunday, Sept. 19

Black. Lots of black. Not quite Hot Topic's half-off rack, but darkness as a fashion accessory was the rule: corsets, chokers, vinyl, leather, trench coats, fishnets (as stockings and as shirts!). And we even spotted makeup on men just as often as we spotted women going au naturel. But we weren't surprised—an evening with Siouxsie (of the Banshees and the Creatures) at the House of Blues in Anaheim is like Goth Day at Disneyland's extra-credit field trip.

An hour past the posted door time and a line hundreds-deep snaked away from the House of Blues, far into the heart of Downtown Disney. An ID checker working her way down the line mumbled something about a late sound check; some of the neo-Goths coped by ordering tacos. Ninety minutes after rushing from the parking lot, thinking we had 10 minutes before Siouxsie hit the stage, we were in. Someone's gotta suffer for art: a 10:45 p.m. start time on a ticket with doors listed at 8 and no opener—that's glorious existential pain and then some! Plus, watching a show on tiptoes ain't much fun either. Siouxsie fans sprout up real tall for some reason.

The show started with drummer Budgie and Japanese taiko drummer Leonard Eto pounding out a modern take on traditional Japanese drumming; appropriate since so much of the set would be percussion-driven, amplifying Budgie's already-tom-heavy style. Not so much image-driven, though. Budgie wasn't registering much appreciation for the fashion-conscious (as opposed to unconscious) fans, debuting his Recently Divorced Middle-Aged Man look: slicked-back ponytail, tank top and brightly colored shorts. If he wasn't in the band, we woulda put him at the snack bar.

Siouxsie made her own grand entrance in a flowing geisha-girl robe, not-so-cynically remarking, “Welcome to the Fourth Reich—Disneyland!” She'd work the crowd with the joviality of a female Dean Martin, and she showed little in the way of age, both physically and vocally—unlike some of her contemporaries in the Sex Pistols.

While neither the Banshees nor the Creatures (Siouxsie and Budgie's percussion and vocal side project, which eventually blossomed into a real band) were what you'd call Goth—pretty much predating the whole thing anyway—we can't but help think of things in those terms with so many quasi-Goths in attendance. “Christine” was the first and pretty much only song to approximate anything “Goth.” Instead, it seems most of Siouxsie's fans prefer her '80s synth pop period the most: “Cities in Dust” (third encore!) got a huge reaction. But the set was especially Creatures-heavy, probably because Siouxsie's last tour was a Banshees reunion, so Siouxsie front-loaded the show with several songs from the newest Creatures album, Hi! A highlight was “2nd Floor”: inspired, energetic electronic-heavy music, sputtering out like a wind-up toy running down, complete with dying robot dancing by the identically dressed backup singers.

We thought there was always a certain sophistication in much of Siouxsie's music and image, but while the early sparse punk-inspired stuff is our favorite, it was almost entirely absent from the set (“Happy House” was the only song from the early Banshees records). But Siouxsie's voice was—and still is—unique. She works it like a woodwind—trilling as the mood took her, adding dynamics on the fly to fit the songs, breezing past any chances for show-offy acrobatics. She did start to sound a bit hoarse toward the end of the set, although it actually suits her breathy whisper-to-wail delivery. And dancing is as much a part of her performance as her singing: swaying, pirouetting and gliding around the stage, she's a blend of Eastern and Western movements, like a flamenco dancer from Thailand.

After three encores, it was over. A 12:35 a.m. end time—at Downtown Disney, no less. Siouxsie took her band—sweaty from an honest night's work—arm in arm to say goodnight and smiled. “You wore us out,” she said. (Rex Reason)

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