I can still remember getting this album as a senior in high school at Paradise Records and Tapes in Baton Rouge, LA just off the LSU campus. Paradise isn’t there any more, but man do I have a lot of great memories of that place, from going in every Tuesday to check out the new releases (mainly metal) to store owner (and all ’round good dude) Sam Irwin tolerating me playing some metal albums on the store sound system when I worked there.
This album is my very first memory from there and I still laugh when I think about it. Being a metalhead and rockhead, I was more than unfamiliar with Siouxsie and the Banshees other than their name at that time. When I walked in the store, I heard a song playing that sounded to me like a live Robert Plant recording and asked the store clerk if that was a new Robert Plant live album.
The fact that she didn’t laugh hysterically at the question is a minor miracle, but hey I was a senior in high school and wasn’t well versed in very much music outside of my beloved heavy metal and classic rock. And she was quite pretty…I believe her name was Eileen Vicknair…and she was very nice when she told me that it wasn’t Robert Plant, but rather a woman named Siouxsie Sioux. For the life of me, when I listen to the album today I don’t know how the hell I thought it was Robert Plant singing.
The song was Night Shift and the album was Nocturne, their double live album. It wasn’t until several years later that I could begin to appreciate the album as a whole rather than just a handful of songs. With each passing year it sounds better and better and I have to rate it as one of my favorite live albums of all time. Very few live recordings can create a mood the way this one does. Absolutely engaging and at times spine chilling.
This is Siouxsie and the Banshees at their goth best, all songs sounding better with a totally committed live treatment. Drummer Budgie steals the show at times (especially on the concert video) with his adroit and ambidextrious creation of rhythm, while Robert Smith of the Cure uses his guitar for color, shade, texture and overall mood. A bass, drums, guitar trio of sound unlike much of what you’ve ever heard, this is pure classic from opener Israel to Melt!, Painted Bird, Cascade, Sin In My Heart, the aforementioned Night Shift…I could name them all. Even more cool is the inclusion of Pulled to Bits, a track which is actually debuted here live. Why don’t bands do that anymore?
If you want a live album that actually takes you somewhere and makes the mood real, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than this. Criminally overlooked and vital listening!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5