How grand was it to see Siouxsie Sioux slink out onto the Irving Plaza stage like a Goth predator? She kicked off her North American tour this past weekend with two shows at Irving Plaza in Manhattan in support of her new solo album Mantaray (which apparently, is quite good). But really, who cares? It's Siouxsie. The icon, the witch, the queen banshee. She could be sipping lemonade on the Coney Island boardwalk at high noon and the air would still smell of burnt embers. Thirty years after The Scream, Siouxsie stands alone; no Banshees, no Creatures, no Morrissey and certainly no Sid Vicious at her side. She's playing solitaire these days, even striking the 'Sioux' off the credits to Mantaray. She's got a point--there's hardly anyone who approaches her level of pop stardom encased in gothic glamour and feminine mystique. Her allure is legendary, with everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Goldfrapp to Karen O citing her as an influence. And so on Saturday night, Siouxsie slashed and burned through her set like a woman possessed, looking ready to both fire off her tour and to reclaim her rightful title as darkest woman alive.
With her silver Avengers cat suit (she's never been shy about her affinity for Emma Peel) and trademark eyebrows, Siouxsie leap, cut and knifed with the energy of an ageless ocelot. She seemed keen on drawing upon Mantaray for a large part of the set, as the first three songs she performed where all from the new album ("They Follow You," "About To Happen," "Here Comes The Day"). She then delivered the two-pronged attack of "Dear Prudence" into "Hong Kong Garden," to much fan reverence. She mentioned that she wanted to perform "Hong Kong Garden" as it was the 30th anniversary of the single. Thirty years later, it still sounds just as intricate and modern, mainly due to the fantastic, wiry guitar lines in the song. The new guitarist did his best Banshee impersonation, thinning down his sound and laying sheets of echo and reverb over the top. The band then ran into the hissing, moody "Night Shift" off the seminal Juju album. I kept holding out for "Halloween" but it never came. Oh well. More tracks of Mantaray were delivered, and she closed the show with "Into A Swan", the anthemic electro-rock single off the album.
The crowd cheered her back for the first encore, and she shared an anecdote about how she used to try to quit smoking. About how every time she would quit, her body would reject everything and break down, and so she decided to "quit quitting" and start smoking again. The band then launched into "Nicotine Stain," the dizzy, bewitching track from 1978's The Scream. The Basement Jaxx collaboration single "Cish Cash" closed out the first encore set, and she returned once more to do "If It Doesn't Kill You." The crowd was euphoric by then, having just witnessed an icon deliver the goods. The devotion was palpable. She cooly accepted all the flowers from the front row, and seemed genuinely charged to be in front of a live audience. Then she graciously exited from the stage, still facing the crowd; it felt like a ceremony.
Photos by Gabriel Kuo