The Orange County Register (5.6.99)

Creatures roar in Santa Ana

REVIEW: Having shaken out the complacency of their former band, Siouxsie and Budgie get back to dark basics.

BEN WENER, The Orange County Register

Maybe breaking up the band was the best thing that could have happened for the odd Creatures named Siouxsie and Budgie.

Even their harshest critics would have to admit that Siouxsie and the Banshees had an awfully good run of it. Perhaps the longest-running and certainly most varied band to emerge from the British punk movement of the late '70s, the group that inadvertently helped spawn a Goth-rock movement delivered a handful of great, even masterful albums in its two decades, double as many catchy singles, and in its eccentric, tribal way, managed to keep pop just left of center.

But complacency set in right around the time that the Sex Pistols reunited. Death to the Banshees, then, as one-of-a-kind lead singer Siouxsie Sioux and husband-drummer Budgie returned to their occasional side project the Creatures, begun in 1981.

Last year, the Creatures toured with legendary avant-gardist John Cale and were warmly received; this year, in support of only its third full-length album, "Anima Animus," the band is on its own and headlined a nearly sold-out gig at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana on Tuesday night.

And the results of the 90-minute performance, though far from matching the ferocity and majesty of the best of the Banshees, were remarkable _ in that Siouxsie and Budgie, now in their early 40s, seemed revitalized, tearing into their new material with the conviction and verve they showed back when the Banshees unleashed "Spellbound" and "The Scream" on the world.

Granted, the Creatures are different beasts. For one, spacious techno sampling has replaced psychedelic guitar work (and not one but two bassists have been added to the touring lineup), while impossible-to-replicate sequencing has replaced Budgie's manic drum patterns, the sort that often leave fans wondering if he's grown a third arm.

But the intensity hasn't changed. If anything, propelled by Siouxsie's slinky, stealthy maneuvers and gutsy, deeply sonorous vocal delivery, it's been recaptured. Concentrating heavily on the new album, and opening already jagged material such as "Exterminating Angel" and the dark rocker "2nd Floor" in explosive ways, the Creatures often achieved that slippery goal the Banshees long ago gave up striving for _ to make the sound seem unrelenting and chaotic while maintaining disciplined control over every note.

Planned spontaneity, if you will. Call it transparent, but when the impression is this mesmerizing, you can ruin it by looking too deep.

Certainly the adoring crowd, which greeted every song with rapturous applause, didn't want to examine anything too closely, and as Siouxsie has long since ascended to enigmatic-goddess status with her legions of fans, she could have sung nothing but nursery rhymes and been loved.

Still, this was an ironically bright, hopeful evening. That Siouxsie and Budgie refuse to rest on their laurels, opting to forge ahead with an old-school DIY attitude, beating their way back through tiny clubs and low-profile record deals, is not only admirable, it's correct. That their audience _ still in black, black and more black, drenched in pale makeup and donning the requisite tattered Banshees T-shirts _ is keeping pace with them every step of the way is not only endearing, it's encouraging.

The Creatures

Where: The Galaxy Concert Theatre, Santa Ana

When: Tuesday night

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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