Well that was some comeback!
Melting down Meltdown and being the talk of the town- not bad for a week’s work.
We had forgotten that you had been away for so long, after all it doesn’t seem several years since the fab Into A Swan single and the Manta Ray album when you then suddenly reemerged strutting in your Pam Hogg designed cat suit like the perfect star.
At Meltdown you appeared yet again, complete in yet another daring cat suit, the last of the torch-ered singers with you songs of love and fury and that voice as dark, swooning and swooping as ever. Your festival appearance has been a timely reminder of your feline power and claws out command of the stage.
They always called you the ice queen and, whilst it’s true, that you have a certain terrifying demeanor and the look like some one you wouldn’t want to fuck with, it’s the fragility that lurks just underneath that always fascinates. That humanness that leaks out all the time. That perfect contradiction that marks out all the great, idiosyncratic performers that are your fellow travelers like Iggy, Jim Morrison, prime time Bowie and the eternal Rolls Royce voice genius of Marc Bolan and the rest of the addictively sordid cabaret of the darkside of glam and the escape from the suburbs dark disco of the seventies as well as the poets and mad(wo)men that dictate the cool dark matter of great rock action and the rest of them- the ones that took pop’s template and ran away with it on a fierce freak trajectory of their own.
Siouxsie, there was never really anyone else out there like you was there? Punk was a vehicle out of the suburbs and you didn’t really hitch a ride more than help to drive the whole charabanc, escaping from stifling middle England of suburban stuffiness when you were naturally drawn to the Sex Pistols brilliant freak show. There you were in those ancient photographs with the so called Bromley contingent- dressed to kill- timeless cool with fellow suburban escapees like your perfect foil Steven Severin who would go onto to provide two decades of creativity with you in the Banshees.
I love the way you were instigator of Grundy-gate when the late presenter’s patronising leering backfired on him and you were firmly part of the inner circle of the 1976 youth-quake when the tabloids quaked in terror as you had fun tearing down the female template and rebuilding it in any way that felt good.
What you were unwittingly involved in was one of those generational moments when the rest of us had to decide which side we were were on but you were already scheming and plotting the next step. Not content with being a brief flicker of photogenic freakery you were already getting your own creative thing together when the Banshees were hatched at the 100 Club festival in the autumn of 1976 with The fab Marco on guitar and fellow scene face looking for a band, Sir Sid on drums- how cool was that. It was a perfect cacaphonic racket and a brilliant example of punk DIY, where attitude meant everything and the noise was the backdrop to invading the stage and taking over the space for ourselves.
Of course you became a proper band, a dark and mesmerisingly icy thing with strange and intense songs about sex and death and all sorts of taboo subjects that eventually saw a record deal and a first hit single with the deceptively poppy Hong Kong Garden. The times were a changing as everyone looked for an escape route from punk’s year zero and there you were central to it all with your crown of thorns hair and ever changing wardrobe and painted face – a look copied endlessly by the young punk girls who saw you as an iconic presence and one of the key figures in punk’s vital feminine thrust. This was a new kind of woman- not the servile pop princesses of yore but, especially in your case, fiercely intelligent and deliciously dangerous and every inch the equal- if not better than the boys with guitars who made up the rest of the so called movement.
Whatever punk was you swiftly moved away and when your band did a runner you rebuilt the line up with the elastic armed St Helens escapee drummer Budgie and the fab reinventor of guitar John Mcgeoch joining you and Steven and flowered into a kind of modern post punk, dark heart, psychedelic presence with a new vision but with the added fierceness of your roots, the captain trips of freak pop and the night clubbing cool of Iggy and the other king lizards mixed into the fray.
There were poetic and magical hits like Happy House and Christine, unlikely moments of pop perfection and musical invention all over the albums with swirling clouds of darkness and the powerful intoxicant of lust and a whole other worldliness them.
You were sort of a pop band but one that worked under its own rules and your very look was filling the alternative clubs all over the world. The crimped hair and the heavily made up eyes were the staple for high street ice queens whilst your music unwittingly became a key influence on the so called goth scene which we would prefer to call post punk with black clothes.
You, of course being an individual hurtling out of the big bang of punk despised all these sub genres but that made them like you even more because they loved you and your music and didn’t understand why they were being put in a genre by academics looking to file all this creativity away into a neat little boxes.
Ever restless you put together the Creatures with Budgie – a reinvention of a reinvention with its clattering percussion and fairground madness and those dark sex vocals that hinted at everything magical, unknown or beyond the fringe and oozed the same kind of danger as the great Jim Morrison had once done before being a tragic pisshead seemed more attractive to him.
There were periods of isolation in France where you holed up with your cats only to return when you were ready. The Banshees were eventually shelved because being some kind of heritage act didn’t seem very Siouxsie, although if those songs ever did get revisited it would be with a creative vengeance. The Creatures were rested and there was eventually the fab solo album. You were fortunately missed out in those endless industry awards that reduce everything to average and mavericks to mice, awards that you probably ignored anyway- the kind of awards that go to Annie Lennox for some reason but we imagine you really didn’t give ‘ une fuck’ as your French neighbors would probably say.
And then there was Meltdown, where your very presence defied boring stuff like age with your body and voice somehow remaining unchanged by the decades, scoring another victory in a society terrified of growing older and especially terrified of women over 50 choosing, unlike the mainstream media, to defy age’s inevitable creepy crawly time. There you were waltzing across the stage as imperious and deadly as ever, inspiring the women you always inspired and a whole host of men who are still awake out there and hopefully a whole new watching generation who are looking for something beyond the static babble of mainstream modern music.
Meltdown was a major victory for a lot of people on a lot of levels. But we are kind of hoping that you use it to bounce back into the middle of the musical conversation because, god knows, we are getting bored shitless of the aforementioned music making mice that scatter before your pointy and attitude laden boots and your frankly quite impressive onstage karate kicks…