Siouxsie, Astoria 2, London

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The Independent Culture

It's been 31 years since Susan Janet Ballion first took to the stage at the 100 Club on Oxford Street to perform a cut-up of "The Lord's Prayer", though it's probably her appearance with the Sex Pistols on the Bill Grundy show that sealed the pact that turned the punk revolution into a media commodity.

Her music with the Banshees and the Creatures went on to inspire a remarkably diverse range of artists. But the Banshees last wailed in the Nineties, and in 2004 Siouxsie Sioux toured solo for the first time.

Now she's back as simply Siouxsie, with largely the same five-piece band with whom she recorded her debut solo album, Mantaray. Angular, pogo-simple drum patterns punch holes in the stage floor, there are xylophone flurries and strong, stripped-down riffs, and the band reaches the jagged, glassy textures of Banshees songs as well as filling the roomier solo material with a crunchy, basic energy.

On Mantaray's opener, "Into a Swan", she declaims in that distinctive, arching vocal style, "I feel a force I've never felt before." She may have turned 50 this year, but when she takes possession of the stage in the packed, overheated, airless venue, she unleashes that force on her audience with unerring directness. Dressed in a skin-tight black cat suit and fetish boots, her long hair still as black as a goth's eyeliner, she looks barely changed from the persona set down years ago.

The show starts with the fevered, fractured-mirror dream state of "Israel" and the goth exotica of "Arabian Knights" before Siouxsie showcases four songs from the new album, which features heavily in a 15-song set. "About to Happen", all lyrical dread and urgency, comes with a heavy rock riff that harks back to pre-punk styles, while the opening chords of "If It Doesn't Kill You" are almost back-to-basics Led Zep.

The musical textures may be less glassily fragile and tortured than of old, but the grand dame of punk's spirit of remote, wilful dissidence remains intact, and the new material is as well-received as the ecstatic pounding version of "Dear Prudence" and the closing double hit of "Swansway" and the furious souped up cover of the Doors song, "Hello I Love You".

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