New York Times (5.2.95)
Is This Mood Music Or Music That's Moody?
By Neil Strauss
It was a tug-of-war between moody music and mood music when two English bands, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Spiritualized, performed on Friday night at Roseland. Siouxsie and the Banshees played gothic rock filled with brooding lyrics that alternated between joyous solitude and bitter alienation. Spiritualized played minimalist rock jams that sounded as if they were meant ot evoke the numbed euphoria of a drug rush.
Siouxsie Sioux (originally Susan Janet Dallion), the leader of Siouxsie and the Banshees, is the Annie Lennox of the gothic-rock underground, whose denizens were in full force at Roseland in black gowns and capes, black eyeliner, black hair dye, and white face powder. During 19 years of music making, Siouxsie has changed from a swastika-wearing Sex Pistols groupie to a noisy punk musician to a dark-rock poet to a synth-pop diva. During her set, which included three encores, she hinted at all of these styles with her quirky alto, singing dark psychedelia of 1980's "Christine," the apocaplyptic dance-rock of 1985's "Cities in Dust," and the perky-pop of "Stargazer," from her new album, "The Rapture" (Geffen).
At times, the drummer, known as Budgie, played arresting polyrhythms and Martin McCarrick stepped away fron his keyboards to evoke eerie sounds from the cello. But too often the band tried to match the lyrics emotional detachment with equally cold music: robotic rhythms, mechanical-sounding bass lines, canned synthesizer sounds. It sounded as if they were making a soundtrack for a 1980's low-budget outer-space film. When the music dragged, Siouxsie at least kept the show flowing with her dance moves, which ranged from feline slinking and purring to the popular gothic-rock dance of waving her hands enigmatically in front of her head as if to say, "There is something going on in here that you will never understand."
Spiritualized, which opened the show, preferred the visceral pleasures of music to the mysterious ones. It's leader, Jason Pierce, doesn't write music with a song in mind; he writes it with the sound in mind. That is why it didn't matter that Mr. Pierce sometimes borrowed lyrics and chord progressions from his former band, Spacemen 3, especially since Spacemen 3 borrowed their chops from late 1960's psychedelic and garage rock bands.
Spiritualized played gliding music anchored in breathy vocals and repeating guitar sounds. In songs like "Things'll Never Be The Same" (a Spacemen 3 song that steals its riffs from the Stooges song "TV Eye") and "These Blues" (from Spiritualized's new album on Arista records, "Pure Phase"), a gale of guitar noise or bluesy harmonica solo added just enough intensity to turn the band's drones into rapture.