Melody Maker (3.29.80)
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
Osborne Club, Manchester
The gig that should have been at Ericís.
The Osborne Club is not the best of places to play a warm up gig for a tour. When Ericís Roger Eagle is not hiring the club, itís a roller disco - and it shows. "Guys" and "Dolls" written over the toilets. Notices telling us: "Speed skaters will be sat down for 10 minutes" and "No chewing gum".
The deejay announces that the PA is connected to the beer pump, so when the group are on, we wonít be able to buy any draught beer.
They enter the stage to the sound of childrenís screams, distant yet claustrophobic, a venomous noise, and into the sinister lilt of "Playground Twist".
Itís all very dramatic. As the speed changes, Siouxsie becomes a pendulum swaying from side to side, one white spotlight on her face, shrieking in that typical Siouxsie way which seems hackneyed now. I donít know about Gothic. These days itís like a horror film without the suspense. The initial shock is still there, but no fear. Itís as if the horror images on your TV screen come alive but you know they wonít step out of it and touch your life. All you can fear is your own emotions, your own response. So is it possible to enjoy the Banshees?
On a purely musical level (if there is such a thing), yes. If you donít bring out your emotions (and the gestures are still too large for warmth), you notice that the sound is good. The present line up works well. Although Siouxsieís vocals still dominate, itís closer now to a wall of sound than just rhythm plus screams.
And some of the new material shows possible changes. Siouxsieís discovered a gentler tone in her voice, which comes as a relief, like the new cooing voice in "Happy House" which is mellower and less abrasive than of old. All promising signs, and thereís a chance that the people that missed the group due to the shattering events of the last tour will get a better deal this time.