Siouxsie Sioux

Troxy, London - 6 September 2023

"A cultural icon, a pioneer, a warrior queen, the Mother to thousands of Goth women everywhere"

The return of Siouxsie Sioux to the stage after a decade-long hiatus, and her first tour in 15 years, has been quite the buzz, and announcements of more shows, more festivals past the first performance at Cruel World have had people very excited indeed. Online, clips circulate as the number of appearances grows, prompting questions and discussions in which a multitude of differing opinions are thrown into the ring. I always avoid watching or engaging with this sort of thing too much before seeing a show, as I prefer to walk in with an objective blank slate.

Tickets for the first London show on September 7th sell out immediately, so she gifts us with another for the night before. The venue is Troxy, a beautiful Art Deco gem in Limehouse. This choice makes perfect aesthetic (and historical) sense and is thoughtfully reflected in the merch for the night, with a numbered edition silver and black poster and event specific t-shirts. The British weather decides to give us one last intense blast of summer, and arriving at Troxy is like walking into a sauna... because it being an Art Deco gem means no air conditioning. Despite the rising temperatures, the falling hair and melting makeup, the sold-out crowd is in a great mood and the excitement in the air is palpable - we are all there to witness the Queen of Goth, after all.

My guest and I take our seats in one of the venue's upper-level booths. I'm initially a bit annoyed - we have very tall people in the booth in front of us. My annoyance turns to disbelief as my guest's seat literally falls apart (again, another quirk of it being an Art Deco gem, I suppose - though at £73 a seat you'd think the venue would make sure they're in functioning order). After frantic discussions with an usher, we are guided to another booth - this one reserved for the artist's guests and a far better view. Looking back at my old seat, I see that Spizz is sitting opposite where we were meant to be, and he's lit up like a Christmas tree with a string of multicoloured lights. His accoutrements are always entertaining, but I don't want anything to break my focus. So it's all for the best.

Stage time is set for 20:45, and in the run-up an unexpected brass band with sparkly (and minimally) outfitted flappers appears for a short burst, paying homage to the venue's past. There is another 20-minute wait with the original RKO logo to keep us company. I'm anxiously tapping my foot in the slow-as-anything bar queue, hoping the desperate need for a simple bottle of water won't cause me to miss the start (although the queue by the open door leading to the smoking area which provides a breezy respite from the heat). It's been 25 years since I've seen her, and I'll be furious to miss her walk on. Finally, my water comes, and I run back to my booth seat - just in time to have a sip before she and the band take the stage, to the strains of Carnival of the Animals.

Siouxsie Sioux London - 6 September 2023    Siouxsie Sioux London - 6 September 2023    Siouxsie Sioux London - 6 September 2023

They're silhouetted behind a screen, mysteriously lit in dark blue. The first notes of Night Shift ring out and as her voice joins the song, the screen lifts… and there she is, resplendent in an ice-blue Pam Hogg playsuit and trainers. Her once black hair now streaked in silvers and greys, but trademark makeup perfectly in place… and the crowd goes wild! After the lighting and thunder crack impact of Night Shift, she takes us through a selection of Banshees and Creatures/Mantaray tracks, accompanied by simple but effective visuals, and punctuated with facts ("King Kong opened here 90 years ago!") and banter ("Bloody festivals and their short sets!"), showing that her sharp wit, charisma, and commanding personality have not diminished in the slightest.

The band are in good form, though sometimes a bit jangly and a bit too eager, cutting her off while speaking by launching into second track Arabian Knights (prompting a singsong shriek of "bastard!") and a few other spots as well, which is a shame as we want to hear every word she has to say. Obviously, the presence of Steven Severin and Budgie is very much missed, but some of the players have been with her since the Mantaray album, and overall, they do the songs justice.

Do I get to hear every track I wished for? No. But given the immense back catalogue, there is a great selection of Banshees heavy hitters: Night Shift, Arabian Knights, Land’s End, Cities In Dust, Christine, and Happy House, with Siouxsie picking up a guitar for the rather excellent Sin In My Heart. She touches on the lighter side with Dear Prudence, gracefully spinning on the "...around, round, round", and bounces right through Kiss Them For Me. She stalks the stage, flicking her mic cord on Here Comes That Day. She's laughing, having a brilliant time, and so is the crowd. She's also having cups of tea brought to her by a stagehand which, given the temperature and her exertions, is pretty impressive.

On starting her first encore, she remarks "This heat is’s the hottest!". Given the oven (albeit a beautiful one) we are all baking in, 92 Degrees would have been a fitting nod and wink to our shared experience. She instead gives us Peek-A-Boo and The Passenger. Then comes out for encore two, which is Hong Kong Garden, sending the crowd into a state of ecstasy.

The raging online arguments I saw in the lead up to the show all focused on criticism of her existing vocal range. Does she sound exactly like she did on the albums? No. It is ridiculous to expect that. The voice and the body change with time, and what we all have committed to memory with our years of listening to our favourite songs, ad infinitum, is never going to be what we now experience live. And you know what? That's cool.

Siouxsie Sioux London - 6 September 2023    Siouxsie Sioux London - 6 September 2023

She could have buried herself in backing singers, effects and whatnot, she could have just phoned it in - but that wouldn't be very Siouxsie, now would it? Instead, she brings us something really special: the reality of her, as an artist, doing her thing, right now. Honest, defiant, unflinching, and genuinely herself… and she is having a great time doing it. She leaps, she bounces, she sways, she has fun, gives us everything she has with style, grace, humour, a knowing look, no compromise and no bullshit: Here I am, and if you don't like it, you know where the exit is. She's doing what she wants, it's up to you to decide if you want to accept it - and that's how she's always rolled.

The arrival of Siouxsie in 1976 was like an explosion, and those shock waves have clearly continued their expansion. For me, as a young girl growing up in the 1980s American Midwest, she was an inspiration, doing things on her terms, not giving a damn what anyone thought. She was, and continues to be, a force to be reckoned with. She showed me that I didn’t have to conform to the mainstream and that I too could be a strong individual, I too could manoeuvre through a predominantly male world, and that there was more for women to sing and be about than boys and good times. She was instrumental in the punk and post-punk scene; afterwards reshaping and refining, but always staying true to herself, always moving forward on her terms. Her legacy and influence continue to ripple outward - as evidenced by all the young people at her show, some looking like they could have stepped out of the 100 Club 47 years ago.

That she speaks so strongly to multiple generations shows she is more than just a singer - she’s a cultural icon, a pioneer, a warrior queen, the Mother to thousands of Goth women everywhere, and the love her fans have for her cannot be compromised or underestimated. London was the end of the tour, for now there are no more shows announced. Hopefully, we will see her again and perhaps this taste will give her inspiration for more to come.

So, for all the naysayers out there, she's still Siouxsie - and she's definitely still got it. 8/10

Setlist: Night Shift, Arabian Knights, Here Comes That Day, Kiss Them For Me, Dear Prudence, Face To Face, Loveless, Land’s End, Cities In Dust, But Not Them, Sin In My Heart, Christine, Happy House, Into A Swan Encore: Peek-A-Boo, The Passenger Encore 2: Hong Kong Garden

Review + Photos: E. Gabriel Edvy