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Siouxsie & The Banshees / Comsat Angels

Hammersmith Palais, London 21.2.81 

‘‘Here’s another happy little tune.''  

Introducing a song concerning the Iranian’s display of burnt-out American corpses, the Comsat Angel’s Steve Fellows meekly and ironically summing up the evenings prevailing mood.  

Two bands, flashing song titles like Dark Parade and Night Shift as if they were blinking red danger signals. Two separate and very individual expeditions into another world of darkness and shadow, perverse gloating over death and misery, and hints of sinister thoughts hidden in subconscious - if not always lyrically, at least musically in the shape of constant looming doom and threat.  

The perfect coupling, then. And an invigorating one.  

Music doesn't have to be all smiles and grins to be an enriching experience. The Comsat's and the Banshees make you happy but in wily, devious ways; by confronting complacency and the pretence that alls well, they reach nearer to the core of the real world and cut right to the bone.  

The attack on complacency carries through to their own stage performances too. Both bands could rest on their laurels and churn out old standards like some hip version of variety club entertainers. Both choose instead to challenge their audience by basing their sets on new material even though they sometimes feel the punters don't deserve it.  

The Comsat's new songs are all several degrees more black and haunting than even the best on their debut album, but unfortunately they failed to pull off the trick this time around, with Fellows' voice lacking it's usual self assurance and Andy Peake's sparse but vital keyboards totally inaudible for 90 per cent of the time.  

They were merely great, while they have the power to be devastating. 

Lynden Barber

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