Opening with a song as intense and frequently harrowing as Night Shift was an interesting move by Siouxsie Sioux.

The returning goth/punk goddess entered the open-air venue with the hood of her shiny silver catsuit up, eventually revealing the face that for so long personified all things celebrated as ‘alternative’ in what now looks to have been the heyday of the British music scene.

Plunging into the murky waters of the bleak six-minute dirge from Siouxsie and The Banshees’ feted 1981 album Juju served to remind all present of the kind of uncompromising material that made her former band such a startling proposition in the first place.

With a 10-year absence from the stage – and almost as long from the studio – to put behind her as the marquee attraction at Glasgow’s annual Summer Nights festival, the doom-laden vibe wasn’t likely to last long.

A series of crowd-pleasers seemed inevitable under the circumstances, especially given that fans had waited almost three hours after doors had opened to see their idol.

A suitably tribal Arabian Nights did the trick, therefore, as the joyous reality of this most unexpected occasion finally sank in for Siouxsie’s followers.

When the erstwhile Susan Ballion, 66, announced her astonishing comeback earlier this year it rivalled for shock value – perhaps even surpassed – David Bowie’s volte-face in 2013 following his self-imposed exile from music.
Everyone had heard the rumours – Siouxsie’s voice had gone, she’ll never sing again, they said. All so much balderdash.

Such was her self-assuredness here that those ‘lost’ years simply melted away – and how those around her, both the musicians and the black-clad masses, danced to her tune.

Catching her bassist and drummer having a conflab after a scintillating Kiss Them For Me, Ms Sioux turned into a school mistress giving her pupils a chiding.

“Boys chatting between songs,” she said. “I don’t know what they get to talk about. Less of the chit-chat, more of the do, please!”

The sense that there was a clear pecking order was underlined by a lack of any introduction for the all-male quartet who so skilfully replicated the complex arrangements of such esteemed past Siouxie collaborators as bass icon Steve Severin, guitarists John McKay, John McGeoch, Robert Smith and Jon Klein, and of course, drum maestro Budgie.
Further, it was as if they had taken – or had imposed upon them – a vow of silence, as not a word was uttered on mic by any of them all night.

This was in contrast to their leader who chatted away in her London brogue, having another pop at her band ahead of Dear Prudence with an endearingly sarky, “Ladies, come on! Put those handbags down now.”

By way of introduction to a fittingly lithe Face To Face, she quipped, “Bats and cats, don’t you love ’em?” – before a few gremlins threatened to derail a brooding Loveless, from Sioux’s recently reissued solo album Mantaray.

Showing no sign of being agitated by the hindrances, the legend simply sang through the problems – her voice, noticeably deeper than in previous times, staying the course while the tech faltered.

“Time for the end of the world,” she declared, as the unmistakable chiming intro to Cities In Dust rang out, prompting a euphoric response from the rain-soaked punters.

Almost 40 years since it was penned, the Pompeii-inspired barb came over as a startlingly prescient yet immediate warning as much of the planet burns.

Curios presented on the night included an ultra-taut Sin In My Heart with Siouxsie playing at least some added guitar and, by total contrast, the string-free Creatures track But Not Them.

Throughout, the still-energetic singer cut the sort of exotic dance moves that were her trademark in the 80s, with her sense of playfulness exemplified by her repeated good-natured thumbing of her nose and ears towards her audience.
The missing Hong Kong Garden and Peek-A-Boo aside, this was effectively a greatest hits set delivered with both power and guile, and few observers – if any – could have been left disappointed.

Rounding off with such timeless classics as Christine and Happy House alongside an utterly gigantic Into A Swan capped a stunning reintroduction for a monumentally influential artist.

As encores go, unleashing the sci-fi glam stomper About To Happen and an intoxicating Spellbound simply underlined a memorable triumph for the dark side.


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