Siouxsie – review

Royal Festival Hall, London

It's five years since Siouxsie last played in London, long enough for absence to inspire rabid fondness. When she strides on to the Festival Hall stage for her first show as part of Yoko Ono's Meltdown – a second had to be added to meet demand – she is greeted with a standing ovation; pity the misguided usher who attempts to stop fans rushing down the stairs to fawn at her feet. You get the impression Siouxsie herself expects nothing less: she is every inch a pop star, a teasing, saucy, inexhaustible exhibitionist. Songs aren't merely sung but performed with her entire body: jutting elbows and thrusting hips, whip-cracking arms and scything kicks. And she does all this encased in shiny white plastic: no wonder she cries out halfway through, "I'm melting!"

Anyone hoping for a best-of set has to exercise patience: Siouxsie and her three-piece band begin with the entirety of Kaleidoscope, the album she released in 1980 with the Banshees. Red Light and Hybrid are terrific, with volatile guitars and menacing drums pulsing beneath her taunting vocal; Skin is better still, a whorl of malevolence stabbed by Siouxsie's cackled demand: "Give me your skin for dancing in." These songs feel dangerous, industrial, futuristic, and Robert Brian's drumming is key: his jagged rhythms cut across the guitars like a serrated knife, cymbals glinting as they nick.

With fan favourites comprising less than half the show, inevitably a lot is left out (what, no Peek-a-Boo?), but what they do play neatly conveys Siouxsie's passage from gothic punk to feline glamour. Her voice has deepened with time and it suits her: you can hear it in the muscularity of Dear Prudence, the authority of Israel. There are grumbles for more, but Siouxsie, imperious as a dominatrix, leaves everyone wanting.

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Contributor

Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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