Morning Star (October 23, 2004)

The ice queen melts

LIVE: ROSALIND GRAINGER marvels at Siouxie's ability to play a stunning gig nearly 25 years after her heyday.

TRINNY and Susannah would have a field day with the audience for Dream Show, Siouxsie's contribution to the Royal Festival Hall's Mind Your Head season.

What seemed appropriate garb for scrawny students of modern studies back in the early 1980s - very black hair, ill-fitting straight-cut jeans, scruffy T-shirt and big boots - just doesn't work when you're nearly 25 years older and at least as many pounds heavier. But who cares?

Certainly not the joyful mini mosh pit, no more than six people deep, bouncing along to Dear Prudence at the front of the RFH stage.

And certainly not Siouxie herself. Always disdainful of the fans, male and female, who turned themselves into Siouxsie clones back in the mid-1980s, one imagines that she'd take a perverse diva's pleasure in seeing how frumpy and flabby her old subjects have become.

I just hope that she won't also take delight in denying them some old Banshees favourites such as Spellbound.

The years have been kind to Siouxie. Her grace and presence are undimmed by the passing decades.

Her voice is, if anything, an instrument more powerful and expressive than any in the Millennia Ensemble, which appear onstage behind her and indeed, are somewhat superfluous throughout, being completely drowned out by Siouxsie's fellow creature Budgie and the amazing Leonard Eto, formerly of Japan' s Kodo drummers.

The only nod to the passing years is Siouxsie's vigorous insistence that "this tombstone of a place" be warmed up.

Back in 1980, she was more worried about getting gob down her throat than having cold shoulders, but it's great to see that she can still throw as good a diva strop as ever.

While Budgie's material is well received, it's obvious that most of the audience are diehard Banshee fans.

The first few bars of Obsession elicit one of the night's biggest cheers.

By Happy House, which closes the first half, every inch of space at the front of the stage is covered with dancers and even Siouxsie' s warmed up.

The strings are busy too, but sadly, we can't hear a note that they're playing.

It's not until after the interval that we get a proper opportunity to hear the Millennia Ensemble.

Rapture, a complex, swirling composition, sounds even better with live strings.

It was Siouxsie's dream show and the second half saw a cheekier and more relaxed front woman, joking with the crowd, kicking up her dainty heels for Cities in Dust, the jaunty little Banshees number about Pompeii and showing off her vocal range in Not Forgotten.

After the show, they come back for three more numbers, the last of which is Spellbound.

Siouxsie has us all mesmerised. For a minute or three, we are all back to 1980 again.

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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