This is SO GOOD, and it seems that it’s only just turned up on YouTube in its entirety in the last few months: quality footage of a complete Siouxsie and the Banshees concert—from arguably their strongest period, the three years when guitarist John McGeoch was in the band—broadcast on the superb long-running German TV program Rockpalast.
Please indulge a detour here so I can hyperventilate like a gushing fanboy about McGeoch before we get to the music—he’s far from a household name even among guitar geeks, but McGeoch’s playing ranks with Rowland S. Howard’s and Daniel Ash’s in its importance to the sound of post-punk, particularly in its gothier forms. Before the Banshees, he had noteworthy tenures in ur post-punks Magazine and new-romantic instigators Visage, but with the Banshees, he adopted a richly textured style of layered picking that recalled both The Police’s Andy Summers and his own Banshees predecessor and successor Robert Smith (more famously of The Cure, of course), without actually sounding quite like either. He’d been pointing the way to this kind of thing here and there in Magazine, but it seems like the Banshees set him loose to turn the idea into something magical. His style during this period has been singled out as an influence by guitarists like The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro. McGeoch’s performance on the indelible classic “Spellbound” earned him a slot in Mojo’s 1996 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time; hear for yourself, here it is on Top of the Pops.
McGeoch contributed excellent work to the Banshees’ LPs Kaleidoscope, Juju (cited just yesterday as one of ten must-have post-punk records), and the astounding A Kiss in the Dreamhouse before his struggles with alcohol led to his ouster from the group. He soon joined The Armoury Show with refugees from The Skids, and a few years later turned up in the most commercially successful version of Public Image Limited, but it was his work with the Banshees that made him a hero. Here’s that Rockpalast concert, offered into evidence.
‘New band, new mistakes,’ said Siouxsie Sioux in an after-show interview from this concert of The Banshees at De Meervaart Theater, Amsterdam in 1982.
Siouxsie was describing changes to The Banshees line-up over the previous 4 years, which had seen the arrival of drummer Budgie, and guitarist John McGeoch, joining Siouxsie and 1st Banshee Steven Severin.
As McGeoch explained it was the core dynamic of Severin and Siouxsie that made The Banshees work.
The Banshees were one of the most important and influential bands of the past 30 years, and while so many other bands from the sixties, seventies and eighties are getting back together and taking to the road again, it would be good to see The Banshees regroup, to take their rightful place at the top of the tree.
Sadly, any reunion would be without McGeoch, who died in 2004. McGeoch was classed as a Punk Jimmy Page, and had successful career with Magazine, Visage, The Banshees, and Public Image Ltd. I’ll leave it to McGeoch to describe performing with The Banshees in concert at De Meervaart:
‘It was great, because I felt like I was a teenager again, which was at least 20 years ago - and it’s nice to have memories like that.’
And o, what memories.
02. “Painted Bird”
03. “Arabian Knights”
05. Interview with band
07. “Happy House”
08. “Head Cut”
09. Interview Steven & Siouxsie
10. “Voodoo Dolly”
11. “But Not Them”
12. “Sin in My Heart”
I’m pretty sure Severin’s show at Cinefamily last time completely sold out, so if you snooze you’re likely to lose.
Steven Severin (acclaimed solo artist and founding member of the legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees) returns to the Cinefamily in person, giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear his new score for Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr: the third in his ongoing film accompaniment series “Music For Silents.”
Though Hitchcock called it “the only film worth seeing twice”, the mysteries of Vampyr couldn’t be untangled in a thousand viewings. Dreyer’s film set a precedent for psychological horror, deploying mood and technical wizardry to render the strange logic of a nightmare on the screen. Shot with a silent film aesthetic despite being filmed in the sound era (and a year after Lugosi starred in Universal’s Dracula), Vampyr finds a perfect aural counterpart in Severin’s suitably textured score: a synthesized, highly atmospheric soundscape that draws the viewer rhythmically into a strange, horrifying dimension just outside our field of vision.
Tickets are $15-$90 and free for Cinefamily members. There are two shows scheduled, one at 7:45pm and a second set at 10:00pm. Order tickets here.
Film-maker and musician, Don Letts was working as a DJ at the Roxy club in London in 1977, when he filmed most of the Punk bands that appeared there, with his Super 8 camera. Letts captured a glorious moment of musical history and its ensuing social, political and cultural revolution.
Letts decided he was going to make a film with his footage, and had sell his belongings to ensure he had enough film stock to record the bands that appeared night-after-night over a 3 month-period. Eventually, he collated all of the footage into The Punk Rock Movie, which contained performances by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, Subway Sect, X-Ray Spex, Alternative TV and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. There was also backstage footage of certain bands, and Sid Vicious’ first appearance with the Sex Pistols, at The Screen On The Green cinema, April 3rd, 1977.
I miss Tony Wilson. I miss the idea of Tony Wilson. Someone who had an enquiring mind and was full of intelligent enthusiasms, like Tony Wilson. And who also didn’t mind making a prat of himself when he got things wrong. Or, even right.
I met him in 2005 for a TV interview. He arrived on a summer’s day at a small studio in West London. He wore a linen suit, sandals, carried a briefcase, and his toenails were painted a rich plum color - his wife had painted them the night before, he said.
Wilson was clever, inspired and passionate about music. He talked about his latest signing, a rap band, and his plans for In the City music festival before we moved onto the Q&A in front of a camera. He could talk for England, but he was always interested in what other people were doing, what they thought, and was always always encouraging others to be their best. That’s what I miss.
You get more than an idea of that Tony Wilson in this compilation of the best of his regional tea-time TV series So It Goes. Wilson (along with Janet Street-Porter) championed Punk Rock on TV, and here he picks a Premier Division of talent:
Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunder, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine….. The tape fails there!
The uploader ConcreteBarge has left in the adverts “for historical reference” that include - “TSB, Once, Cluster, Coke is it, Roger Daltery in American Express, Ulay, Swan, Our Price, Gastrils, Cluster & Prestige”.
So, let’s get in the time machine and travel back for an hour of TV fun.
Happy Birthday Siouxsie Sioux - lead singer and co-founder (along with Steven Severin) of one the most important, brilliant and influential bands of the past 35 years.
Siouxsie was a pioneer in both music and as a role model, breaking down stereotypes and putting women on a par with men, “rather than just objects”. As journalist Jon Savage, once wrote, Siouxsie was “unlike any female singer before or since, commanding yet aloof, entirely modern.”
Siouxsie and The Banshees were, without doubt, the most audacious, artistically creative and musically ambitious band to have arisen out of Punk, who generated their own musical genres from a mix of Pop, Punk and the Avant Garde.
Steven Severin has always been cool as fuck. From when he first appeared on TV, looking edgy at the back of the infamous Bill Grundy interview that launched The Sex Pistols’ “filth and the fury” onto the nation, through Siouxsie and The Banshees, to his position now as one of our leading film composers. Just take a look at Mr. Severin in this interview for Music Box, from 1987, with his blonde crop and silk waistcoat, and compare him to the mullet haired interviewer, who looks like he’s come off the set of Miami Vice, or failed the audition for Conan the Barbarian, again. Mr. Severin has always been ahead of the pack, and that’s what makes him so interesting musically, creatively, intellectually, and in his sense of style.
In this brief, rare interview, Steven discusses how he first met Siouxsie (at a Roxy Music concert in 1975); why the band’s line-up has changed for the better; his thoughts on being the first band to tour Argentina since the Falklands war; why The Banshees recorded “Dear Prudence” in Stockholm; and how tax problems affected The Glove, his band with Robert Smith.
Steven Severin is touring with his superb score for Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr in May and June this year, details here, where you can also buy a copy of his Vampyr CD.
I saw Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Play At Home Channel 4 television special when it originally aired in 1984, and as a rather enthusiastic aficionado of LSD at the time, it was immediately apparent to me that this trippy trip down the rabbit hole was a program made for acidheads, by acidheads. No other drugs could explain this one! I’d have to say that this was probably in the top five of the very oddest things I’d ever seen on network television at that point. I can’t imagine what “normal” people must’ve made of it at the time.
The Play At Home series offered four musical acts—New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Virginia Astley and the Banshees, during the period that Robert Smith of The Cure was in the band—an hour of TV to do pretty much whatever they wanted. When they saw what the Banshees cooked up, I’m sure the execs were both thrilled and nervous (What happened to Channel 4 over the years???).
The Banshees’ Play At Home episode was finally released as a DVD extra on the reissue of the 1983 Nocturne concert film in 2006. Note inclusion of music from side-projects The Creatures and The Glove. Longtime Banshees producer Mike Hedges makes an appearance as the Queen of Hearts and Annie Hogan, once Marc Almond’s musical collaborator, can be seen as the Doormouse.
During Robert Smith’s tenure as the guitarist in Siouxsie and the Banshees (1982-84), a period that yielded the “Dear Prudence” hit single, as well as Hyena and live Nocturne album, Smith and Banshees’ bassist Steven Severin also formed The Glove, a side-project with vocalist/dancer Jeanette Landray (Smith’s Cure contract forbade him from singing with another group).
The Glove produced just one album, the experimental, druggy, yet still poppy-sounding Blue Sunshine (yes, they copped the title from the cult film about the bad LSD) and two singles, “Like an Animal” and “Punish Me with Kisses.”
The 2006 reissue of Blue Sunshine as a 2 CD set features a disc of demos with Smith singing instead of Landray.
Below, “A Blues in Drag”:
After the jump, the video for “Punish Me With Kisses”:
Last month in London, it was announced that the legendary 100 Club was to close after sixty-eight years of promoting live music in the same location at 100 Oxford Street. The venue was originally a restaurant called Mack’s, and live music first played there, when British jazz drummer, Victor Feldman’s father hired the venue for a regular Sunday night showcase, to promote the talents of his sons and their bands. Gradually word spread of a new jazz haunt, and it soon became the hot spot for British servicemen and visiting American G.I.‘s. Amongst the early performers to play at the venue were Glen Miller, Ray McKinley, Mel Powell and Peanuts Hucko.
By 1948 the venue was called the London Jazz Club and it was the centre for Jitterbug, Swing and then Be-Bop as well as promoting new forms of music. The Feldmans then gave up ownership and the Wilcox brothers took over the now thriving club. In the 1950s, the lease changed hands again and it was taken over by Lyn Dutton, agent for popular jazz trumpeter, Humphrey Lyttleton, who renamed the venue to the Humphrey Lyttelton Club, giving Lyttelton residency. The club scored a major coup when Louis Armstrong played there in 1956, and it later became the venue for Trad Jazz throughout the 1950s.
With the arrival of The Beatles in 1963, British music changed, and the club was given over to the next generation, and renamed the 100 Club. The policy was still the same - a venue to promote new music. Soon the 100 Club was spearheading the R’N'B scene with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and B. B. King all taking to the stage, along with new acts such as Rod Stewart, Alexis Korner, Julie Driscoll, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Animals. The rise of Beat music brought in The Who, the Kinks, The Pretty Things and The Spencer Davis Group.
The success of the Sixties was but a memory by the 1970s began, as the club struggled through a variety of work-to-rule measures and energy black-outs enforced by the government of the day. This all changed when the 100 Club launched the first festival of Punk:
On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st September 1976 the 100 Club was host to the first ever Punk Rock Festival. Seen for the first time, certainly in London, on the 100 Club stage were the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie & The Banshees the Buzzcocks the Vibrators and Subway Sect. No one outside of a select few had heard of any of the them and all of them were unsigned. The Melody Maker’s opening line of its review stated ‘The 600 strong line that stretched across two blocks was indisputable evidence that a new decade in rock is about to begin.’ It was to be one of the most famous events in the club’s history. The Punk festival of ‘76 also had an enormous effect on music in general. It changed the club’s fortunes and its image indefinitely. As no other venue wanted to put on Punk at all, it stayed at the club on and off for the next eight or nine years incorporating its second wave with bands like U.K.Subs, G.B.H., ADX, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, The Exploited and Discharge. The 100 Club is still the spiritual home of the Punk movement.
At the same time the 100 Club was also promoting Reggae, with Steel Pulse and The Might Diamonds, and Northern Soul, with Terry Callier, Doris Troy, The Flirtations and Tommy Hunt.
In 1980s, African Jazz / Township Music became the focus for the club:
Julian Bahula, the distinguished African drummer, decided to run a regular Friday night featuring authentic African bands. Many of the musicians he employed were political refugees isolated from their South African homeland because of the apartied laws and were members of the outlawed A.N.C. The weekly Friday nights became a whole movement for change and with the pulsating music on offer a whole new genre in the 100 Club‘s history was born. Great African musicians like Fela Kuti, Marion Makeba and Hugh Masekela appeared on the Friday night bill as did Youssou N’Dour, Thomas Mapfumo, Dudu Pukwana and Spirits Rejoice. It ran for almost ten very successful years until the release of Nelson Mandela, then the change in the political climate in South Africa meant the cause was over.
1992 was to see the start of the biggest era in popular music at the club since 1976. The club was once again going through a lean spell when a chance phone call from concert promoter, Chris York, inquired whether the club would be interested in showcasing one of his new bands. The band were called Suede and in September 1992 they kicked off the club’s successful period in Indie music.
Over the next four years Oasis, Kula Shaker, Echobelly, Catatonia, Travis, Embrace, Cornershop, The Aloof, Heavy Stereo and Baby Bird would be just a few of the names to play the club and right up to the present day, the club has seen gigs from Semisonic, Toploader, Muse, Shack, Doves, JJ72, Jo Strummer, Squarepusher, Ocean Colour Scene and The Webb Brothers.
Now, the venue that has been at the heart of new music in the U.K. since 1942 is about to close, and a campaign has been set up to Save the 100 Club. As the club has been in difficulty for a wee while (for various reasons), £500,000 has to be raised by November. If you are interested in saving the 100 Club or have a spare half-million to spend or just ten quid, then get in touch and be part of history.
If the money is raised, the club will stay open as a non-profit organisation, with its new owners being the donors. A Board of Trustees would be democratically elected by the donors to run the venue, and “your donation would entitle you to an equal say in these decisions, whether you are able to pay £10.00 or £10,000.” the ultimate aim is:
..restore the venue as a place where new bands can develop and existing bands can continue to thrive.
Look at it this way, if the 100 Club shuts down, your venue could be next.
Without a place for musicians to play live, the future of music will be in the hands of the karaoke-singing, bastard children of Simon Cowell’s X-Factor and American Pop Idol. Hyperbole aside - seriously. The choice is ours which way it goes.
Bonus Clips of The Sex Pistols and The Clash after the jump…
In the late 1970s, while Dudley Moore was off starting his career in Hollywood, Peter Cook entertained himself and a new generation of fans by hosting one of British TV’s first Punk Rock music shows, Revolver.
Produced for ATV by famed impresario, Mickey Most (best known for producing Herman’s Hermits, Suzi Quatro and Jeff Beck) Revolver had Cook introducing acts like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Buzzcocks, The Jam, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who all played live in front of a studio audience. There was also a twat of an in-house DJ, but the less said about him the better. Of course, there was the occasional roster of crap record company acts, but this was the 1970s, when there were only three TV channels in the UK, and the national anthem ended proceedings every night on two of them. It was a new style of program-making, chaotic, rude, funny and at times required viewing - as the BFI explains:
Revolver‘s most innovative element was designed to evoke the confrontational atmosphere associated with punk gigs. Peter Cook was invited to guest on the programme on the strength of the notorious Derek and Clive recordings, which shared with punk a kind of adolescent, deliberately puerile nihilism. In the guise of the seedy manager of the rundown nightclub rented out to the TV company, Cook would appear on a video screen, sneering at the acts and antagonising the studio audience. One guest, Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, recalled Cook distributing porn magazines, which he encouraged audience members to hold up during sets to put off the bands. Not surprisingly, Cook’s contribution is better remembered than that of nominal host Les Ross.
For all its punk credentials, the show’s music policy was often bewildering - appearing alongside the likes of X-Ray Spex, Ian Dury and Siouxsie and the Banshees were Kate Bush, Lindisfarne, Bonnie Tyler and the avowedly anti-punk Dire Straits.
Revolver‘s engagingly chaotic presentation makes it perhaps an ancestor of Channel 4’s controversial The Word (1990-95), but in 1978 it drew critical derision and failed to impress ITV managers. Unpromoted and buried in a late night Friday slot (ironically the exact post-pub slot in which The Word thrived), the series was starved of an audience and was pulled after just seven editions.
Bonus clips of Siouxsie and the Banshess, The Jam, Ian Dury and The Buzzcocks, after the jump…