Siouxsie and the Banshees
with Spiritualized at the Orpheum
by Chris Adams
It’d been so long since I’d been to a show at an actual concert hall that I’d forgotten what to expect. I’d forgotten about the grand, vaulting architecture and the perfect acoustics. I’d forgotten that people actually dress up for these things. I’d also forgotten that the bastards who run the place actually start the show at the scheduled time – in this case 7:30 PM – lunchtime, as far as I’m concerned. So when I hustled into the hall, Spiritualized were halfway through their first song, “All of My Tears,” which totally pissed me off. (It wasn’t my fault I was late – some motherfucker with too much time on his hands had phoned another bomb scare into the T so I had to walk the last mile to the Orpheum.) Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have given a shit, but this was Spiritualized, and Spiritualized are one of the best damn bands in the world. The group arose from the ashes of Spacemen 3 in the early ’90s, and have put out two mind-blowing albums thus far – 92’s Laser Guided Melodies and this year’s Pure Phase. And, if the Orpheum show was testament, they deliver the goods live too.
Being openers, they only got a 40-minute set, but what a godlike 40 minutes! After the gentle, mournful “All of My Tears,” Spiritualized blasted into what they do best; erecting droning, repetitive, psychedelic sonic tapestries that, at their best, are nothing short of transcendental. You couldn’t really see much of the band on stage, just their silhouettes framed by a muted blue stagelight, but the pulsing reds, blues and greens of the light show fit the music perfectly. (Helpful hint: If you close your eyes just enough during such a manic lightshow with a band like Spiritualized, you get colored patterns as good as the ones you’d see on one hit of good acid.) The band only played a total of four more songs – “These Blues,” a faster version of Spacemen 3’s “Sound of Confusion,” and a couple of brand new ones that I’ve never heard before. (Either that or they’re old b-sides.) Vocals were kept to a minimum, as the band preferred to segue from song to song with searing dronefests that lasted as much as 10-minutes apiece. Intense beyond words. Spiritualized are probably as close as we’re gonna get to ’67-’68 Velvets in our lifetime. And that makes us very lucky.
As far as Siouxsie and the Banshees go, well… I can’t say I’ve ever been a massive fan. I like a lot of the earlier stuff, especially ’84’s Hyena, and the few times I’ve seen ’em live, they were either good or (once) amazing. But still, I can pretty much take ’em or leave ’em cos I just can’t relate to that many songs about Halloween. At the Orpheum show, we pretty much got what we expected, despite Siouxsie’s hoarse throat and slightly expanded girth. She still plays her ice queen geisha girl role expertly, and her stage mannerisms were as captivating as usual, except when they spilled over the side of ludicrousness. Nevertheless, 40 minutes into the set I was aching with boredom. Can’t blame the Banshees though – virtually anything would’ve paled in comparison to Spiritualized.
I left, but all the Banshees fans I ran into later said it was amazing, so what the hell do I know?