Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Siouxsie at the South Bank - and Horniman Juju

I wasn't  quite sure what to expect at the Siouxsie gig at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday night. I thought it might be one of those polite 'an audience with...' sit down South Bank affairs, where ageing punks perform interpretations of Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill and labour through the Great American Songbook. But no, as soon as she came on and started with Happy House everyone stood up and stayed up for nearly two hours-  there was actual pogoing upstairs in the stalls and dancing in the aisles. Siouxsie and her band played the whole of the Banshees' Kaleidoscope album and much more, finishing with the great Spellbound as second encore. The gig was part of  Yoko Ono's Meltdown, and Yoko was in the Royal Box, standing and clapping for Siouxsie's version of Dear Prudence (which of course John Lennon wrote).

photo by jamesalternation at Slicing Up Eyeballs

The setlist for those interested was:

1. “Happy House”
2. “Tenant”
3. “Trophy”
4. “Hybrid”
5. “Clockface”
6. “Lunar Camel”
7. “Christine”
8. “Desert Kisses”
9. “Red Light”
10. “Paradise Place”
11. “Skin”
12. “Eve White/Eve Black”
13. “Israel”
14. “Arabian Knights”
15. “Cities in Dust”
16. “Dear Prudence”
17. “Loveless”
18. “Face to Face”
19. “Careless Love”
20. “Here Comes the Day”
21. “Into a Swan”
22. "Spellbound"

(She played the same set on Saturday night without Spellbound as second encore)

Juju and the Horniman Museum

I have been reading 'Siouxsie & The Banshees: the authorised biography' by Mark Paytress (2003). Of course there's lots in the early days about  Chislehurst (where Siouxsie grew up) and the 'Bromley Contingent' from which the band emerged. But there are also a few other interesting connections further into South London. 

The band's original drummer, not counting Sid Vicious for one gig, was Kenny Morris who packed in a course at Camberwell College of Art to play on the band's first two albums. Steve Severin, bassist and co-songwriter, was living with his friend Simon Barker in Bermondsey/Borough during the lead up to the 1980 Kaleidoscope album, and wrote the music for 'Christine' in that Southwark Council flat. But I was most interested to read about the origins of the African image on the cover of the 1981 album Juju (which includes Spellbound and Arabian Nights). According to Severin, 'we saw a definite thread running through the songs, almost a narrative to the album as a whole. The African statue on the cover, which we found in the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, was the starting point for a lot of the imagery'. Interesting to wonder how many songs, stories, visions and more have been incubated in the Horniman over the years.

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