The Goddess Returns

Last night I went to see Siouxsie Sioux of famed punk/goth/alternative band the Banshees at the Southbank Centre as part of Yoko Ono’s Meltdown Festival.

The ticket was very kindly procured on my behalf by my Marc Almond friend and Southbank Member, Lisa from Bristol, ensuring that I had a ticket and a good seat, to boot. I was located in Row BB, which is the first row in the rear stalls just behind the mixing desk.  I was located centrally just to the left of the desk, ensuring I had the most wonderful view.  I have since learned that the chap dancing enthusiastically in front of me is a friend… but I could only see the back of his head so didn’t know it was him!

I arrived at the Southbank Centre around 7pm and was greeted by the wonderful sight of middle aged goths, just like me!  Magnificent hair, interesting clothes and lots of laughter… I was almost transported to my goth-hey days of the mid 1980’s… Lord knows I was wearing enough eyeliner!

I met up with my friend Fabrizio and we discussed the array of styles of the mixed crowd, before making our way into the hall to watch the support, Viv Albertine, ex-lead singer of The Slits.  I only know a couple of their back catalogue, but heard neither of these songs.  What I did hear was a mixed bag, but perfectly listenable.

During the interval, I hooked up with Fabi again and amid a mini drama concerning his lost concert ticket, we enjoyed a quick drink before making our way back into the concert hall.  There were still a few minutes before the main attraction was due on stage, and I idly glanced around to see if I could see anyone else I knew.  Lauren and Jayne shouted me from behind (it took a couple of seconds for me to realise it was my attention they were trying to attract!)  I then saw Marc Almond fans Tracy, and Garry and frantically waved across the Festival Hall.  I got chatting to the bloke sat next to me, a Northerner from Middlesborough.

Moments later the hall lights dimmed and the crowd stood, eager to greet the goddess that was to appear on stage.  After the band took their places, Siouxsie shimmied onto the stage wearing a white PVC outfit with fitted bodice and flared full-length skirt.  It was contrasted by a black harness, around her waist and shoulders.

The heavy music filled the air, and the crowd started to go crazy.  Siouxsie sang  “Happy House”, one of the Banshee’s earliest singles and the crowd bobbed along appreciatively to the familiar tune.  Next song, was “Trophy”, then “Tenant”.  I could see a pattern emerging here but did anyone else guess what was happening?!  “Kaleidoscope” is one of my favourite SATB albums and the song “Desert Kisses” has unexplainedly been on my mind during this past week, so I played the album during the week and enjoyed listening to the old classics.  Little did I realise, that Siouxsie would re-create the album, track for track on the Southbank stage!  I was besides myself with happiness and tingles of excitement were literally playing along my spine like a glockenspiel!  “Clockface”, “Red Light” and the rest of the songs from “Kaleidoscope” followed to a highly appreciative audience…. Unfortunately the two women stood to my right weren’t quite so appreciative, and I wondered what they were doing at the gig, as they were stood motionless like showroom dummies amidst the rest of the crowd who were going crazy, not least of all, me!  I screamed, whooped, cheered and flayed my arms about with relish.  At one point “misery number 1” actually had her fingers in her ears!  I desperately wanted to ask her what the hell she was doing there, when so many of my friends would have killed to be in her position.  The gig was a sell-out, so much so that a second date was added for Monday, and there they were, unmoved by the exciting music and putting their fingers in the ears!

Somewhere along the line, the long skirt from Siouxsie’s outfit was removed to reveal a pair of knee high boots an white PVC leggings forming part of a jumpsuit!  Sioux left the stage after the “Kaleidoscope” section of the gig ended and returned to sing some old classics such as “Israel”, “Arabian Knights” “Dear Prudence”, “Cities in Dust” and “Face to Face” which was used in one of the old Batman films about 14 years ago, accompanied by Bat Lights being shone on the ceiling of the Festival Hall.  There were a few tracks from Siouxsie’s solo album, “Mantaray”, namely “Loveless” “Here Comes That Day” and “Into a Swan” which sat very nicely along the old classics.

All in all it was an amazing gig.  It would have been nice to have seen Siouxsie perform a duet with Yoko Ono, or something similar.  In fact Lennon’s widow didn’t even make an appearance which I found slightly strange, as it was “her” Meltdown!  I would have also liked to have heard a Creatures track, or two.  But given the goddess’s estrangement from Creatures partner and ex-husband Budgie, I guess the painful memories were too strong.

I’m being extremely picky and self-indulgent here…. I was just very grateful to see her perform live again, and was left wondering whether this would be the last time I would see her doing so.

I hope, for all our sakes, it is not.

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