Toronto Sun (4.28.95)

Goddess Has Still Got It

By Kieran Grant

[The Warehouse, Toronto, 4.26.95]

3 out of 5

Chalk one up for chalky Goth Goddess Siouxsie Sioux. After an awkward liftoff, pale rockers Siouxsie & The Banshees managed to enthrall some 1,800 fans, both old and new, at the Warehouse Wednesday. Flanked by drummer husband Budgie, Banshee-lifer Steve Severin on bass, guitarist Jon Klein and keyboardist/cellist Martin McCarrick, Siouxsie had her work cut out for her. Relying heavily on goth-rock panache, which still haunts the band on their new disc The Rapture, she was not about to kowtow to The Banshees' inventory of post-punk hits. Instead, the British outfit gave fans a dark, tumbling ride through The Rapture's digital effect-laced tunes.

Unfortunately, The Banshees' big sound was often lost in the echoes of the venue. Also working against the group was their choice of lighting. The retina-frying pink and blue backlighting worked beautifully when awash in the soothing drones of opening act Spiritualized, a motionless quintet that wasn't necessary to see. But with spectacle integral to Siouxsie's theatrics, blinding the audience was not a good idea. Then somehow, mid-way through their performance, The Banshees turned all adversity on its ear. It suddenly became evident that at 38, Siouxsie is still the best goth crooner and growler around. Likewise, bassist Severin was an engaging presence, looking more like a new-wave maitre d' than a proto-punk, but bobbing about onstage as if in an imaginary joust.

Playing drums as a lead instrument accented Budgie's status as a principal songwriter. And while many alternative bands add classical instruments as a fringe, McCarrick's electric cello drove the Banshees' melodies and rhythms. The group ventured into the past only occasionally, with versions of Kiss Them For Me, Cities Of Dust, and a particularly rusty run-through of their trademark Beatles cover, Dear Prudence, from 1984's Hyaena album. But save for a perky finale with 1988's Peek-A-Boo, the new stuff fared better in the end. The Banshees may have lacked Spiritualized's sheer ethereal force, but musically they still take risks.

Don't call them revivalists yet.

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