Wednesday, Aug 14 2002

SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES at the Palladium, August 11

At the risk of giving in to silly cliches about a macabre madwoman, one can easily forgive such things as lousy acoustics after finally putting a voice to the face -- ruby red lips, kabuki pallor, blackened raccoon eyes -- that’s become so iconic of a genre and generation. And now that the perpetually cranky Johnny Rotten has decided to roll out of bed for another vanity tour next month (to be shared with the likes of Blink-182 and the Offspring!), it‘s further proof that Siouxsie and the Banshees are the last great remnants of their time and place.

To a crowd of dutifully shrouded dead menwomen walking, Siouxsie used every trick in the showmanship book. Black-suited (later stripping down to a spangly bra) and mulleted a la Aladdin Sane, she thumped her chest, twirled her hands in flamenco-style passion, and rolled around the Palladium stage like toilet paper, as her drummerhusband Budgie, in a perfect display of one-upmanship, banged in holy terror. The song selection could’ve been more spectacular -- no ”Killing Jar“? No ”Spellbound“? Not a band that indulges fans with too many favorites (except for the rather odd finale of one of their few hits, ”Kiss Them for Me“), they chose to stick to the older tunes, including ”Happy House“ and ”Israel.“ The hall‘s mushy sound simply drowned out the rest of the set, including the Pompeii-inspired ”Cities in Dust“ and Kaleidoscope’s great ”Christine“ with Steve Severin‘s most haunting of bass lines.

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The show was neither the most indicative of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ versatility nor the best of their discography, but that kind of wishful listening is best reserved for home, or until they bless us with another visit. Until then, re-dissect Hyaena, from the mini-opus ”Dazzle“ to the sweeping ”Belladonna,“ and pray there‘s a cover band out there that can do it justice.

Reach the writer at sbabayan@laweekly.com

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