Pop: Party animals and creature comforts



(aka Siouxsie Sioux and drummer-consort Budgie) were always a little branch on the Banshees tree. Three years ago, the main trunk was felled and, at ULU on Friday, that little branch bloomed.

Well, sort of. The Creatures are bolstered by two newly-recruited guitarists. And as the team tumbled into the glitter-ball goth of new single "2nd Floor" a lack of cohesion was evident. The point is, Sioux took it in her stride. A dead ringer for Tiff's mum, Louise, in EastEnders (all bouffant bob, tight trousers and I'm-cheap-me pout) she drolly observed, "Yeah, we're back, slicker than ever!"

She's a lot of things, is our Sioux, but she's not too cool for school. Pretentious, sure, but unlike the PJ Harveys of this world, also ordinary and utterly unselfconscious. On Friday, her exotic flailings, the exaggerated stuff of a silent movie vamp, often appeared ludicrous. The material - much of it from recent EP Eraser Cut - blurred into one long, percussive rant. And even old favourites like "Miss The Girl" failed to electrify. Yet the effect, as a whole, was moving.

Rock couples (Ike and Tina, Sonny and Cher) tend not to do the institution of marriage any favours, but Sioux and one-time Slits drummer Budgie are enchanting. At one point, he strapped on a guitar and she tried a bit of Rank films-style tub-thumping. Every now and again she looked across. Each time, Budgie grinned reassurance.

With the encore, the mood turned positively cosy. And, true to form, licentious. Siouxsie, having dispensed with the cymbals-as-breast-plates routine, had by this time stripped down to chest-clenching top, to a round of wolf whistles from her balding male fans and the sizeable lesbian contingent. She then beckoned on two strapping "gals" and merrily growled the 1983 hit "Right Now". Some might see it as pandering to the masses, but chart- friendly covers are OK by Sioux, even those from the Banshees oeuvre. She ends on "The Passenger" and the whole sweaty room begins to bump 'n' grind. And the gals on stage pop their fingers. One woman shouts in my ear, "I'm not being homophobic, but I'm sick of drag queens". Everyone else, though, is tickled pink. Think Joy Division at Butlins.

"Goodnight" cried Sioux, as bunches of flowers flew on to the stage. "See you tomorrow!"

Tomorrow? From anyone else it would have been arrogance. But she knows what we know. Though a somewhat stunted section of the rock family tree, The Creatures' branch is still good for a swing.