Scripps Howard News Service (August 25, 2003)


"THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH LIVE," Siouxsie and the Banshees (Sanctuary)

If Siouxsie and the Banshees' "The Seven Year Itch Live" is a love letter to fans, it sure isn't a very affectionate one.

The live disc recorded during the group's 2002 reunion tour goes strangely astray - strange even for a band that built its success on innovative eccentricity, from its punk beginnings in the 1970s through its Goth dance music in the '80s and its artful pop in the '90s.

But "The Seven Year Itch Live" is clouded by a decidedly uninviting oddity: an emphasis on lesser-known, older songs from the group's catalogue. Although it 's a pleasant surprise to hear the revival of the gloomy, porn-themed "Red Light " (1980) and the grim march "Night Shift" (1981), it's hard to discern what merit the band found in its largely dullish renditions of an array of unremarkable songs from two decades ago.

Although there are glimmers of excitement in the skittish energy of "Icon," the ominous edge of "I Could Be Again" and Sioux's looping tug-of-war with the guitar and rhythm section on "Metal Postcard," the album is a disappointment for what's missing. Namely: versions of "Cities in Dust," "Dear Prudence," "Spellbound," "Kiss Them for Me," "The Killing Jar," "Arabian Nights," "Face to Face" and more.

Sketchy liner notes address the apparent mentality behind the song selection: "They rejected the idea of promoting the imminent 'hits' CD and instead worked up a set that punctured the pantomime of platitudes that is the mainstay of reunions." Well, hits are hits for a reason, and "The Seven Year Itch Live" is mostly a miss.

At least the final track is a lively romp through the band's masterpiece, "Peek-A-Boo," and it comes across like a sudden, arousing kiss after a long and uncomfortable encounter with an old lover.

It'll leave fans feeling both empty and nostalgic.

Rating (five possible): 2-1/2

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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