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Siouxsie

Dreamshow

Live at the Royal Festival Hall with the Millennia Ensemble

(Wea; US DVD: 3 Apr 2007)

Siouxsie’s artistic evolution is nothing short of astounding. Is that graceful lady performing in front of a sophisticated orchestra really the same girl who began her career hanging out with the Sex Pistols and other malcontents within England’s emerging punk rock scene?  Although she began her career as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Siouxsie Sioux later broadened her stylistic horizons by forming The Creatures as a duo with Banshees’ drummer, Budgie. This current show features a healthy selection of music from both the Banshees and The Creatures, which may be why it is listed under the singular Siouxsie name.


Husband Budgie’s influence over Siouxsie’s music is immediately obvious when watching this concert DVD. The show begins with Budgie and a shirtless Japanese drummer named Leonard Eto dueling it out. Budgie sits at a standard kit, whereas Eto stands and plays one lone hanging drum. This percussive opening leads into “Say Yes!” where Siouxsie takes the stage dressed like a stylish geisha girl. On the big screen behind her, a flaming suns burns while this extended ensemble plays. 


Although Siouxsie is backed by a few vocalists, a horn crew, and a string section, the first portion of this concert is primarily a minimalist showcase. In addition to all the drumming going on, there are also slight keyboards and vibes. It isn’t until “Seven Tears” that she truly puts her horn players and strings to good use. Then with “Godzilla!”, a love song sung to that loveably destructive lizard, electric guitar finally makes its presence felt.


Siouxsie with strings shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to anybody. After all, this woman with the dramatic eye makeup has always been distinctively theatrical. Her performance of “Obsession”, which is slow and smoldering, is smartly orchestrated. Same goes for “Kiss Them For Me”. But nothing benefits more from all these swelling violins than “Dear Prudence”. This cover of The Beatles’ psychedelic favorite is more full and powerful than ever during Siouxsie’s latest live take on the song.


It should also be noted that this is an extremely healthy portion of Siouxsie music. The concert itself is approximately 143 minutes long, and that’s not counting the DVD bonus material. Naturally, there are plenty of Banshees favorites, including “Cities In Dust”, “Spellbound”, “Peek-A-Boo”, and, of course, “Christine”, about that strawberry girl, banana split lady. Siouxsie doesn’t do a whole lot of talking outside of introducing her musicians. She does, however, complain about the stage’s low temperature. “I may be the ice queen,” she quips, “but I like it fucking hot.”


The primary portion of this DVD was captured in 2004 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. But there are also extras taken from a 100 Club date during the same year. This club snippet reveals an entirely different side of Siouxsie’s performance skills. It’s a small space filled with rabid fans that jump and dance to the Gothic icon’s music. This section also includes versions of “Hong Kong Garden” and “Happy House”, both not included in the Royal Festival Hall set.


Again, the band is stripped down to just the guitar, bass, and drums basics for the club audience. The big, open, colorful presentation of Siouxsie at the Hall greatly contrasts with the dark and claustrophobic 100 Club view. Also, if you’re really obsessed with this woman’s music, there is even a segment packed with pre-concert rehearsals. Lastly, this DVD includes Budgie and Siouxsie interviews. This Q&A gives them a chance to reminisce about the old days at the 100 Club, back when punk rock was still new.


Siouxsie may have punk rock roots, but punk was merely the sparkplug that got her started along an extended musical path. Punk was by no means her final destination. With Dreamshow, viewers have the chance to see how far Siouxsie has come since the mid-70s. And without a doubt, she’s come a long way, baby.

Rating:

Dan MacIntosh is a freelance writer from Bellflower, California,


Tagged as: siouxsie
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