Q 08/99    












  Hard Times

Siouxsie Sioux's lost her sales but kept her dignity.

The Creatures
Dour Festival, Dour, Belgium
July 10, 1999

"We had a rude awakening," concedes Siouxsie Sioux, Chislehurst's bisexual Louise Brroks/Ziggy Stardust hybrid.  "I stopped The Banshees in 1996 and presumed when we began something else somebody would want it."

She returned to The Creatures, a drums and vocals side-project featuring peroxided Banshees percussionist Budgie, whom she married in 19991 to live in sprawling, high-ceilinged domesticity in a 14th Century cathedral town, near Toulouse.  In 1996 and '97 they worked at home on their third album Anima Animus, occasionally playing it to their American label Geffen.

"Mid-way through the recording they said they weren't sure," reveals Sioux.  "We'd financed the project but there was nobody paying us back by taking it on.  It was a very lean, very desperate period."

Tonight's show, in front of a few hundred people inside a sweltering tent in grey, sludge-coloured Dour, is where The Creatures must now work (The Banshees were too glamour-obsessed and aloof for festivals until Lollapalooza late in their career).  It has the makings of a soul-destroying disaster, especially as technical problems ensure it's 1.45am when they finally begin to play to a zombie-like audience who have been trudging around the festival all day in search of inspiration from Drugstore, metal act Pulkas and goth veterans Clan Of Xymox.

Yet, in the face of such adversity a glittering Budgie beams throughout the hour-long show as he thrashes out baroque, tribal beats, behind the scarlet-uniformed 42-year-old Siouxsie.

After an uneven performance, hardly helped by the joyless, heads-down bassist and guitarist, The Creatures finally win through, galvanising weary limbs with the glowering 2nd Floor, cryptic Prettiest Thing and stormy Exterminating Angel.  A sparse singalong version of Mel Tormé's Right Now and the impressively synthetic Pluto Drive complete the seduction, as one dark-haired female fan rips off her shirt and limbers around topless in response to a coquettish flash from the singer.

The Creatures reach their audience of "100,000-or-so" via their Web Site.  Outside this circle, many of whom receive their records by mail order, Siouxsie is a strangely abandoned figure.  Although she turned down a support slot on the Sex Pistols reunion tour and has exerted more quality control over her work than Joe Strummer or John Lydon, she's not in their stratosphere as a punk icon, nor, unlike Chrissie Hynde, has she used celebrity fans to shoehorn herself back into the spotlight.  There have been no dance collaborators (her only partners on record have been Morrissey and Marc Almond), Siouxsie rarely appears at London parties or gigs and remains ambivalent about appropriation of her image.

"John Galliano invited me to his shows a couple of years ago because he was doing a Siouxsie/Cleopatra thing.  It was fun to see the models with Siouxsie wigs on, but I hate fashion."

The Creatures blew their chance to ride the American Goth revival with guitarist-free, audience-challenging American shows with John Cale in 1998.

"We had the idea of setting Samuel Beckett's words to music and doing a Jacques Brel song with Cale.  When we mentioned this to one American fan he assumed Beckett and Brel were our bass players," hisses Siouxsie with a grin.

This wilfulness inspires and frustrates.  The duo refuse to play Banshees songs (except for ancient B-sides) and tonight they perversely omit their excellent new single Say in favour of the ultra-stark Guillotine and Pinned Down from their Eraser Cut EP.

"I'd like it to be a lot easier," confesses Sioux backstage, after Budgie retired with an alarmingly eruptive heat rash.  "We don't have money, the industry is corrupt, but we've always had the dilemma of wanting to get into a bigger arena but not being prepared to do things to get us there."

Steve Mallins 08/99