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1/1/1979  Unknown UK Newspaper
Siouxsie And The Banshees/Cure/Spizz Energi
Odeon, Birmingham 79

This was only to be expected: our Mr. Numan (an ironic moniker, if ever) starts to spawn a small army of imitators. Hi, Spizz!

No Rough Trade left-field credibility here, just an anonymous and static backing band, lots of stagefront posturing and outdated thrashing; a whirling machine-wash of stylistic cast-offs = a faltering disco bass here, a Penetration vocal melody there, Bowie/Roxy fragments everywhere adding up to a caricature of "punk rock" in the mind’s ear of a WASP parent.

Spizz’s complete indifference to his audience and the genial opportunism of "Soldier, Soldier" feel like the start of a joke that takes itself too seriously.

Spizz may have only one tune - and Bryan Ferry lent them that - but at least the Cure don’t have that problem. Lots of ideas, carefully disciplined. Taut, imaginative playing. Energy. And somewhere in there a great big gaping hole, an absent center.

The Cure play very refined rock music, Seventies mainstream music fragmented and rebuilt with intelligence but naggingly inconclusive, like many of their songs: "Subway Song", for example - products of a cleverness which reaches a predictable peak in the current set with "Killing An Arab" but is severely limited in its adolescent precociousness. Sidesteps - the ironic disco "Do The Hansa" or "Boys Don’t Cry".

"You sound a lot warmer then you did for the Cure, why’s that?" Siouxsie addressed the chanting crush at the front of the stalls, tactlessly acknowledging the vociferous anticipation that preceded her entry in striped yellow pants and an old mac.

Severin was balletic in diaphanous red pants, drummer Budgie dominated the stage from a hefty platform and the Cure’s guitarist nervously kept to the wings. These are the Banshees for now, a spirited and creditable pulling-together and pooling of resources after the sudden departure of John McKay and Kenny Morris.

September in the record business is a cruel month for desertion; the deserters stand to reap the joint-credited royalties of "Join Hands" without having to lift a finger in promoting to a broader audience, captivated by "Hong Kong Garden", that needs consolidating, expanding. So go on Siouxsie, sue.

Meantime, the show goes on. Budgie, whose crafty drumming has just prevented the Slits’ "Cut" from centrifugal disintegration, was equally assured and responsively integrated with bassist Severin.

"The Staircase (Mystery)", "Switch", "Overground" and "Hong Kong Garden" held firm, counterpointing Siouxsie’s slow-motion intonation against the metallic marches and Robert Smith’s jagged guitar, hardening each song into an iron grip, the insistent, repetitive vocals building.

 

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