Chicago Tribune (7.30.98)


By Joshua Klein. Special to the Tribune.

As a punk icon, Siouxsie Sioux's cultural import has been pretty marginal. Her band the Banshees was not nearly as political as other female-fronted punk bands or as influential as many of its contemporaries.

For those reasons, Sioux (born Susan Dallion) has too often been reduced to a fashion template, a sex symbol for the black-clad set. The Creatures, a percussion-heavy project led by Sioux and her faithful drummer Budgie, was in some ways an attempt to inject some life into The Banshees' progressively blase outlook, a way to shift the focus from Sioux and back to the music.

John Cale's cultural import, on the other hand, cannot be overstated. As a founding member of the Velvet Underground, the Welsh multi-instrumentalist and his bandmates sowed the musical seeds for nearly every underground band in the past 25 years. The fact that he also produced records by Patti Smith, the Stooges and Jonathan Richman further solidified his place in the rock pantheon.

But as a solo artist, Cale, like the Creatures, is pretty much a cult curiosity. The Creatures' choice of Cale as a tour mate was an inspired move, and the crowd at Metro on Tuesday night was treated to an intriguing mix of all the talents involved.

Cale, backed by a band that included Budgie, began with a short set of his own songs. "Fear Is a Man's Best Friend" and "Riverbank" satisfied the few die-hard Cale fans in attendance, but everybody burst into applause when Siouxsie Sioux, dressed in a shiny black leather suit, slunk out to sing "Hedda Gabler" with Cale.

Cale then left the stage to the Creatures, setting the tag-team tone of the evening. The Creatures' exotic cabaret music was dreary, but Sioux, Budgie, and the other musicians approached the songs with a sense of relaxed fun no doubt encouraged by the already selective nature of the show.

After all, much of the set comprised new songs, including "Disconnected" and "Prettiest Thing" from the group's upcoming "Anima Animus," and older Creatures' songs such as "Venus Sands" and "Miss the Girl" are still somewhat obscure to all but the most Sioux-obsessed.

Sioux vamped to the extreme to draw the audience into the relatively unfamiliar material, and Budgie's intricate tribal rhythms helped keep the crowd entranced.

Soon enough, though, Cale was back on stage for a rough rendition of Richman's "Pablo Picasso" and a harrowing solo version of "Heartbreak Hotel." He brought out his trusty viola for a sultry take on the VU standard "Venus in Furs," with Sioux adding an element of seductive camp to Lou Reed's lyrics.

Cale, Sioux and crew then rolled through Cale's "Gun," which Sioux and Budgie had covered with the Banshees.

The performers may not have revealed many surprises, but Cale and the Creatures left their respective cults satisfied.

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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