Shepherds Bush Empire

The Times (London)

July 12, 2002, Friday


Lisa Verrico

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Shepherds Bush, W12 ****

IF THE Sex Pistols can do it, so can the Banshees. Seven years after they split, Siouxsie Sioux's punk pioneers were back this week for four British gigs. Naturally, it wasn't nostalgia that had brought them together, but a Greatest Hits album. Still, punk was never averse to a bit of fast cash, and compared to the Pistols Siouxsie's crew looked youthful.

If the fans who sold out two shows at Shepherds Bush Empire were worried that the Banshees might embarrass themselves, they were soon put right. This was no tacky reunion but a serious stab at proving their songs had stood the test of time. The show opened to Budgie's thumping drums and a trademark wail from Siouxsie, although in a pitch black venue it was hard to make out either.

Five minutes later the lights came on to reveal a slimline Siouxsie between guitarists Steve Severin and Knox Chandler (the last to play live with the band). She looked amazing. She was dressed in a tight grey silky suit, white pinstriped shirt and skinny black tie, her face made up with glittery eyeshadow and bright red lipstick and her cheekbones as sharp as they were in the 1970s. When she indulged in Spanish-style dancing or froze in an arty pose, she could have been twentysomething again. Only later, when she knelt at the front, did she look a little like a mad auntie let out for the first time in years.

In fact, all of the Banshees had aged well - more than can be said for some of their fans. There was so much spare belly bouncing around it was a wonder someone wasn't hurt.

Elsewhere in the audience, there were plumages of brightly coloured hair, men in kilts and too much make-up, some frighteningly high shoes, bosoms bursting out of corsets and, of course, lots of black.

As for the music, it sounded as good as Siouxsie looked. The band worked their way through one classic after another, each sounding better than the last. Metal Postcard was raw and edgy, Happy House got everyone jumping up and down and Cities in Dust became a mass singalong.

The gig ended with the strange sight of thousands of aging punks spilling out on to Shepherds Bush Green.

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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