Ah, the creatures of the night: Such music they make, etc
Laon | moon-lit Surry Hills | 06/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Banshees were a great band, and at their peak (perhaps between 1978 and 1984: _The Scream_ to _Hyaena_) they burned the brightest of them all. They had the best songs and the best singer, one of the most interesting band sounds, especially with Budgie on drums, and John McGeogh (rest in peace) or Robert Smith on guitar, and in an era where the New Puritanism of the post-punk era still required rock stars to scowl glumly for all photos, and ruled out "dressing like a rock star" or "putting on a show" on-stage, the Banshees were as theatrical as Queen or Bowie. Sure, the Banshees were in at the birth of punk, they were the band Sid Vicious was in before he joined the Sex Pistols, but in their secret heart of hearts Siouxsie and the Banshees were always romantics, and they were all the better for it.In spite of their excellence they were in some ways an inconsistent band. Every Banshees album except for _Join Hands_ has enough great tracks to win four to five stars from me, but it's also true that every album holds its share of filler. It's all good filler, except on _Join Hands_, but each album contains moments of ecstatic brilliance and some minutes that are well short of that. Which is why these days I more often find myself listening to the two superb singles collections, _Once Upon a Time_ and _Twice Upon a Time_, rather than any one of the albums. If you've heard a Banshees track on the radio and you want to explore further, or if you're a moderate fan who doesn't want to invest in the complete set of 12 or so albums, then I'd suggest that those two collections are your starting point. But once you've owned and digested those two CDs, and you want more, I'd be inclined to recommend hearing the band at their live best. And that means _Nocturne_, which captures the Banshees on their 1983 tour with Robert Smith at the fretboard. Don't waste your money on the live _Seven Year Itch_ DVD from 2003; sadly, it's an off-hand run-through of some old hits by a singer who can't sing any more and a band that's forgotten what that music was about, and doesn't seem to care. _Nocturne_ is 20 years better, with a singer with 20 times the voice leading a band with 20 times the energy.So Nocturne starts with Stravinsky at his primitive best, the rhythms of _Rite of Spring_ merging neatly into a driving, superpowered performance of "Israel". This is followed by a gorgeous maroon-velvet version of Lennon's "Dear Prudence", another clue that the skeleton in the Banshees' closet was never a punk, nor a Goth, either. "Paradise Place" falls fractionally below the high standards established to that point, but things recover with a suitably liquid, and beautiful, version of "Melt". Other highlights include lush versions of "Cascade" and "Painted Bird", the psychodrama of "Eve White/Eve Black", "Night Shift" and "Voodoo Dolly", and the wild horse gallops of "Happy House", "Helter Skelter" and "Spellbound", highlighting Budgie's drumming and Robert Smith's driving/droning guitar sound. It's a great concert; most of the songs sound better than on their studio versions, and enough energy is generated to pull some of the weaker songs along. I could quibble with the selection: I'd like to have heard "Christine", and for that matter "Hong Kong Garden" as encores, or even instead of "Paradise Place" and "Switch", but you can't have everything. But if you've got the singles collections then you already have those tracks, and this concert complements those collections by featuring the Banshees in their slightly darker, more intense and less poppy aspect. This is a great concert by a band burning bright, and you should have it. Cheers!Laon"
Siouxsie & The Banshees - 'Nocturne' (Geffen)
Mike Reed | USA | 04/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember first getting this release on double-length cassette.'Nocturne' is a sixteen track reissue of an '83 shindig that was recorded at London's Royal Albert Hall.Duration:76:43.Superb sound quality.Setlist is great,with many of the Siouxsie classics,like "Israel","Cascade","Painted Bird","Happy House",the timeless post punk gem "Spellbound" and "Voodoo Dolly".Can't forget their two Beatles covers,"Dear Prudence" and "Helter Skelter".Highly recommended."
The Siouxsie & the Banshees record I own
Salty Saltillo | from the road, USA | 09/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was 14 years old, this was one of my favorite LPs. If early Lps of the Cure (Faith, 17 seconds, Pornography) had been my gateway drug to darker, grimier sounds as a teenager, this record by Siouxsie & the Banshees was my next step up the ladder. Budgie and Steve Severin were a tight rhythm section in those days, with booming drums and loud, clear, distinct bass lines that dominate the songs. Robert Smith, fresh off of the post-Pornography breakup of the Cure, plays a mangled, dark, out-of-tune monster guitar on this record. All for brilliant effect. Siouxsie even complains at one point during the concert to Smith "Can't we get out of tune any quicker?"
Looking back on this record 2 1/5 decades later, it still sounds fresh and takes me back to my teenage years in the early 80s. When people talk about the British post-punk goth rock sound, this is the sound they are referring to. Tough. Dark. Shocking. But strangely delightful at the same time. I don't own any other Siouxsie and the Banshees records other than this one any more. And I don't see why I would need to. This is the defining performance at the defining moment with the defining collection of musicians backing her up. This is what Siouxsie and the Banshees was all about. Their reputation as an early 1980s British post-punk band was built on concerts like this one. I don't doubt that even in another 26 years, it will still sound as tight and amazing as ever.
If my own children were to ask me "Who were Siouxsie and the Banshees and what were they all about?" this is the disc I would recommend to them. Nothing else. This says it all.