Siouxsie Sioux, Electric Ballroom, London<br/>Robots in Disguise, Barfly, Brighton

Majestic ice queen still reigns Siouxpreme
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Since I was a child, Siouxsie Sioux has been there lurking in the shadows, an avatar for a certain aesthetic, an extreme compass point. Improbable it may be, but the bleach blonde teen who became a singer only when a band was hastily assembled to support Sex Pistols at the 100 Club has become one of the most enduring figures in modern music.

This is the sixth time I've seen Siouxsie perform, going back to the mid-1980s, but it's the first time I've seen her having fun. Wrapped in leather and plastic, her hair a black bouffant, her face a mask of horror, she twists and twirls and stalks the stage, swinging her legs into high kicks like a Dalinian girelephant.

"Dear Prudence", the Beatles cover which was the Banshees' biggest hit, is the surprise opener of her solo show. "We need to light some fires in here," she says cryptically. "Arabian Nights" follows, Sioux's song of fascination and horror at the Islamic world, filled with insinuations of misogyny, pederasty and bestiality ("Veiled behind screens/Kept as your baby machine/Whilst you conquer more orifices/Of boys, goats and things"), then another song for which her racial politics have been questioned: "Hong Kong Garden", an alien's eye view of the Orient.

"We're going to drrrag you 30 years forward," she says, but it isn't a drag at all. Mantaray, Siouxsie's first solo album, is one of 2007's hidden treasures, and her new band, driven by an upright bass, are brilliant Banshees substitutes. "Into a Swan" trembles with anticipation, while the cackling "Here Comes That Day" bristles with just as much Schadenfreude as "Cities in Dust" two decades ago. Majestic and maleficent, the ice queen still reigns. Siouxpreme.

There's a clip doing the rounds on YouTube of Van Halen performing "Jump" when the keyboard sample misfires, and the band plough on regardless. When a similar thing happens to Robots in Disguise, they come clean, laugh about it and start again.

RID are essentially the duo of Dee Plume (hair mostly cherry red) and Sue Denim (hair mostly dirty blond), and since forming in 2000, they've quietly thrived, surviving the bursting of the electroclash bubble.

Glacial and detached on record, in the flesh they show a knack for killer tunes (dancefloor anthem "Turn It Up" being the prime example). Visually they're a clutter of capes, stick-on face jewels and plastic babies, lyrically they're full of references to BMX bikes and Johnny Cash songs. If there's any justice, "The Sex Has Made Me Stupid", the sublime new single, ought finally to transform them into stars.

Comments