Siouxsie Sioux is one of the most captivating musicians of all time. Whether it be on record, live or as a human being outside of music, her input into popular culture has been massive. The high priestess of goth, she initially found her creative feet as a part of the first wave of British punk in the mid-late 1970s. She was a key figure in the punk scene due to her appearance and as a part of the Sex Pistols’ entourage.
However, after the Sex Pistols and friends appeared on a notorious episode of Bill Grundy, she started to move away from Johnny Rotten and Co. and tread her own path personally and creatively.
Inspired by the hatred and rage that the suburb of Chislehurst, south London, created in her as a child and a teenager, lyrically her works touched on the darker side of the human condition, and alongside her band The Banshees, she soundtracked the horrors of 1970s and ’80s Britain, grabbing audiences attention with her striking aesthetic, sinister music and otherworldly stage persona.
As well as quickly becoming the queen of all things goth, Siouxsie Sioux also was riveting in the way that she showed men how to do it. Taking cues from the likes of Iggy Pop, her onstage performances from the heyday of The Banshees are a sight to behold. Seemingly possessed whilst on stage, it was she, alongside Poly Styrene and Debbie Harry who showed that women could be at the forefront of rock, and that they were not to be messed with.
Belligerent but lofty, there has never been anyone quite like Siouxsie Sioux. One of the most enchanting performances she ever gave was on the iconic British music programme, The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978, shortly after the band had released their highly important and influential debut album, The Scream.
Performing the classic track ‘Jigsaw Feeling’, this is a time capsule back to the era where the band were at their rawest. The disorientating sound of the song had a huge spirit, something that the band would go on to develop over the course of their next few albums, which was perfected on 1981’s magical outing, Juju.
An incredible performance, it is spiky, brooding and atmospheric. With colours of the band’s punk roots, the angular guitar of original guitarist John McKay carries the performance whilst bassist Steven Severin and drummer Kenny Morris create a trancelike rhythm, taking the sort of drone that The Velvet Underground established and creating something altogether foreboding and cacophonous.
As the band individually drop out towards the end of the track, Kenny Morris provides a thunderous racket via his floor toms, and at a first glance, one would be forgiven for mistaking him for Joy Division’s Stephen Morris, in sound and appearance.
A brilliant performance, it reflects just how incredible Siouxsie and the Banshees were. Alongside Joy Division and Bauhaus, they signalled the dawn of goth, and through attitude, aesthetic and music, they did their bit in establishing a darker form of music, something that would be augmented as the ’80s wore on, and would have everyone from Faith No More to Massive Attack citing them as heroes.
Watch the stellar performance below.