Shepherds Bush Empire, London (UK), 9 July 2002
Since I haven't got a holodeck just yet, tonight I had the best time travel ever. Shepherds Bush doors were a portal to the past and with any luck the future. The trip was amazing. Manna for the soul. Pure bliss.
Entraining in Holland for a journey to London, just to see this concert seemed to be the only option. But not in the days when I was introduced to this exalted band called Siouxsie and the Banshees. No future was all the rage, and being 14 my means were meagre. I was totally under the spell of their mind-blasting music and their poetic lyrics. Even though I couldn't pronounce the name of See-ook-see properly at the time (yes, feel free to laugh. ;-), because I never heard it announced on the radio or TV. But that didn't withhold me from listening to their music, day in, day out. Of course as you might have guessed the painful moment, and one of great dispute, arrived when someone told me the pronunciation was Suzie. "What Suzie? Too ordinary, that is impossible. That doesn't match their music." Alas, I had to give in. ;-)
The first years I couldn't even afford to go see them live, even though I wanted to move heaven and earth to set eyes on a performance. My parents wouldn't lend me their ears, nor some of their money. When finally the day arrived that I did have a chance to witness the band's talents (1983 or '84), I was hooked, drugged and pleasantly addicted for life. I had to see them as much as I could.
Fast Forward: On the day that I received a fax (yes, the beginning of a brighter future ;-) from a friend with a newspaper clipping stating Siouxsie and the Banshees' break-up; I was stunned and left in the cold. You know that feeling when you start to appreciate things more it they are no longer there? Well, I don't. ;-) No, I found myself more and more talking to friends about the good old days. Longing for a Banshee-injection very badly. Of course there was enough of other music giving me a lot of pleasure (for instance 16 Horsepower) but when I heard about the 7 Year Itch tour, I knew I had to scratch my inner elbow and inject this needle.
Excited like a small child we got on the tube to Shepherd's Bush. Standing in line outside the Empire, waiting for the doors to open. Watching the other fans, seeing them arrive by car or cab now, wearing more expensive clothes and being more original in their looks. Yes, looking around I came to the conclusion many of us absolutely grew old gracefully. However those beer-bellied X-large guys with thin hair on top, umm …. But I guess the English are allowed in as well. No, just kidding. ;->
And in we went, determined to have good seats (yes, old people have to sit. ;-) No, it was just a matter of being too late to get standing-room tickets). Front row of the balcony? Check! Drinks? Check! Merchandize? No, have to go downstairs again. And what a funny scene that was. T-shirts, CD's, badges and posters were being bought without even looking at the goods properly. How many people will have thought back at home that £10 for a 1-track CD is a bit expensive? I know, I did :-) "I just have to have everything" the guy next to me assured me while he handed his gold card to the girl behind the table. Yes, some things have changed. ;-) Up I went with my goodies showing them off to my now very cynical amused friend. "Look what I have got" with a smirk on my face.
A Japanese opening-act! Oh no, for the love of Buddha. Kawai desu, nee. Yes, it was funny. But when a joke lasts too long, it loses its point. And I surely lost my patience. I always have had a love-hate relationship with Japan. But as individualism and originality have yet to find a way into their culture, I still will be suspicious of Japanese bands.
Silence, intro music and revolving blue lights lighting up every corner of the venue, firing up the audience into a state of excitement. Yes, it is about to start. Or? Damn, this takes long. Where are they? No, not just yet. I can't keep my eyes on the dark stage. Where are they? Ha! There they are. "And the crowd goes wild." The stage is lit. As Blackadder once said, I think the phrase rhymes with "clucking bell". They look good! Steven Severin hasn't aged a bit. Siouxsie looks way younger than in 1999 during the Creatures tour. And Budgie, well I guess, like Dorian Gray he will never grow old. Always keen to workout on his throne of drummerboy's toys, but now in a Starfleet training outfit. And who's the guitar player? Chandler? He looks a bit like Johnny Lydon. While my friend though he looked like Mike Peters from the Alarm. Anyway, whomever he looks like, he played as if he was a member of the Banshees for years. Well, that doesn't say much, does it? ;-) Always a very delicate matter to find the right guitarist. But for what it may be worth, I was absolutely impressed by his play. See how long they will keep this one. ;->
The first notes turn into Pure of The Scream album. Has everything been tuned correctly? Because upstairs we hardly hear the guitar and Siouxsie's 'ohhs' are off-key. Is this going to be a disillusion? Did I pitch my expectations too high? And why am I thinking so negatively? ;-> Just questions that occupy my brains for the first couple of seconds. And just as I'm about to shut of my thinking and let the emotions take over, the technical problems are solved and from halfway in the second song onwards they are pure magic. Siouxsie's voice is strong: deep and full of anger, passion and delight. Her performance is like never before. And her looks. She is dressed in a grey-striped-suit of which the jacket went off after a few songs. A sparkling bra and a sparkling figure. A sight to behold.
The sneering sound of the guitar, the seducing bass-lines and the '(tai)kodo'-power of le grand bateur. "Metal is tough, metal will sheen. Metal will rule in my masterscheme." It is rapture to hear those old songs perform live again. I'm a little kid again. I can't refrain from jumping on my once red velvet seat. I am a foreigner in a foreign land, so I just let it all go. Oh, how daring … umm ;-> Can't stop moving and dancing on my few square inches of sticky floor (what the hell was that? Chewing gum from the 70's?). I look around: I zoom in on people watching and trying to suppress their urge to dance, a 14-year old boy standing up and dancing as much as his mum allows him to, an old beer-bellied guy air-drumming, a pony-tailed guy going berserk trying to rip the balconies' railing. And that was in the reserved-seats-section. With friends like that... . ;-) The audience on the groundfloor is jumping up and down. We are having a ball. And when the first set ends with 'Icon', 'Night Shift' and 'Voodoo Dolly' (what a frigging great sequence), I am sure and convinced that I am in a tremendously special place. Is this heaven?
Well not for the security guys, it isn't. As soon as one of them wants to tell off fans from piling up as the tower of Babel, Steve interferes, followed by Siouxsie who speaks to him in her mike: "Fuck off!" (or words in the same vein). It is always a delight when she swears, makes those suck my cock movements, does karate-kicks. The anger, the energy, the force. ;-) And during 'Voodoo Dolly', we really are travelling back in time when we see her roll over on the floor. I don't know how to describe it, but it has got al lot to do with sensuality and intimacy with the audience. In a graceful and tasty way. And she continues teasing the audience with her purrrrrs in 'Trust in Me'. Seducing every single one of us. And when they come back for the second time with amongst others 'Monitor', we get a chance to see how fit she actually is, when she does the splits in mid-air.
Comical relief at the end when three Japanese frogs (my friend insist that these Ex-girls were dressed as teapots. But the best is to leave him in his own world. ;-) enter the stage and sing along with the last song of tonight: 'Peek-a-boo'. Beautiful lights move glorifying through the Empire as they did during the entire show. And as a cigarette, she puts the microphone out, dropping it on the floor. The end. Budgie, leaving the captain's bridge of drums, bowing and inhaling the applause with the biggest smile ever.
I come and I go, whilst I sit in my home; I wanted to listen to the old albums again. But I found their sound quality to be so poor living in this 21st century. Severely hope they will release a box-set soon with remastered of rerecorded songs for all those nerdy fans who want to spend their money. And I am in desperate need of a copy of that live-show. GREED! But who cares: it's only 1 of the 7 mortal sins. What a fucking good show! I am still in a state of shock.
Thank so much Siouxsie, Budgie and especially Steven Severin (take care with your arm).