Siouxsie and the Banshees, a Goth band?

This live music video is the song Israel, by Siouxsie and the Banshees, with then John McGeoch on guitar.

That song was also the first song when they played in 1981 near the Waal river in Tiel in the Netherlands. Maybe one of the best gigs ever. The second part of the concert is here.

An exclusive Banshees interview from that time, only published now, is here.

Siouxsie Sioux, when interviewed, has always protested if her Banshees were called a Goth band.

Is she right?

Let us hear the Banshees song Israel again. This time, a live cover version by Closterkeller.

Undoubtedly, a Goth band. The best known Goth band from Poland.

Singer Anja Orthodox of Closterkeller seems to me to be a nice woman who can sing reasonably well.

However, compare them to the Banshees live video.

And then, you will hear the difference. Anja maybe sings too nicely. A proper performance of a punk song should have drive and tension. Tension, eg, between very serious subjects like (nuclear) war and societies ruled by money (X-ray Spex lyrics) and on the other hand: everyone has fun while pogoing. In the case of Siouxsie, there is tension between the suggestion of erotic attraction and the suggestion of possible danger. Does a leopardess lie in ambush to devour all of me?

That tension is lacking in the Closterkeller cover version. It is not in the singing. The Closterkeller keyboard player plays competently. But not on the level of John McGeoch’s guitar. The drummer, compared to the Banshees’ Budgie: idem. Bass: idem.

Then, there is this cover version of Israel by Scottish Goth band Gothzilla. The singer sounds like he is not interested in the song. If this song has to be sung by a male singer, then I think the male lead vocalist of Dutch ‘bridge between punk and post-punk’ band Cheap’n’Nasty might have sung it with more drive and passion. And the female lead vocalist/bass player of Cheap’n’Nasty might have blown the cover versions by Closterkeller and Gothzilla completely offstage. However, Cheap’n’Nasty never played a Banshees cover song.

Another Scottish band, Lizzie and the Banshees, I think, is better at playing Siouxsie songs than Gothzilla.

Israel is an intense song about an area at war. Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Israelis, West Bank Palestinians, Gaza Palestinians, Lebanese etc. are permanently endangered by bombs which may kill them. To survive, the lyrics say, they sing. A bit comparable to a Syrian death metal band which keeps playing in the midst of war.

Siouxsie sang that song with a Palestinian headdress and an Israeli star T-shirt on.

I regret that in Goth cover versions of the song Siouxsie’s intensity disappears.

I don’t know whether Closterkeller or Gothzilla ever tried Banshees songs, heavier and faster than Israel, like Sin in my heart or Love in a void. Then, I suspect, the difference would have been even clearer.

Many punk bands can keep their drive and tension only while playing fast songs. Exceptions, also in slower songs: the Banshees, really always. Adam and the Ants, sometimes. UK Subs, sometimes. Buzzcocks: what a pity, their fast songs are so great, but … The song I’m a photo model on the Cheap’n’Nasty EP holds up, maybe unexpectedly to some people for a band on their own independent label, very well.

28 thoughts on “Siouxsie and the Banshees, a Goth band?

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