Real longevity is a rarity in pop music, but originality helps. Siouxsie Sioux was there at the start of British punk rock and established a daring, dynamic example for many of the female vocalists who followed: PJ Harvey, Bjork, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. At the Music Box @ Fonda on Saturday, Sioux was ready to keep up with any of them.
It was the second of two sold-out nights at the venue, and Sioux demonstrated the same flair for the theatrical gesture, hovering over the front rows and kicking high into the air in her black boots and silver tights. In many ways, the 75-minute set was like an early show with her former group, Siouxsie and the Banshees, pared down to the essentials, with no special effects and just a five-person band to support her rich, flamboyant howl.
Now 50, she's still the same sophisticated, physical performer she was a decade ago, with no softening of her approach -- wailing, whispering, purring through songs from her solo debut, "Mantaray."
Her first single from the album, "Into a Swan," was dark and brooding, and equal to much of her best work. She tapped into the sound of Shirley Bassey and James Bond on the vaguely trip-hop "Here Comes That Day." "If It Doesn't Kill You" was torrid and dramatic as she lamented knowingly: "If it doesn't break you, it will make you."
Sioux comes from an era when the definition of "punk rock" was less rigid. And she still operates by that initial barrier-shattering code, continuing to push herself, making modern music vivid and new.
She was once the exotic punk priestess, emerging from the Sex Pistols' entourage to lead a forward-looking band that retained a lingering interest in the pop past. The Banshees' sound and image was hook-filled and introspective, alluring and occasionally menacing.
By 1988, Sioux had become a glamorous post-punk cabaret singer, high-stepping amid the band's bleak psychedelic flourishes.
That same panache was present in her Saturday show, which included the Banshees' version of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," with Sioux twirling as she sang, "Look around-round-round." And she snapped her microphone cord like a whip during "Hong Kong Garden," the Banshees' first single in 1978.
She performed none of the Banshees' later hits (1988's "Peek-A-Boo" or 1991's "Kiss Them for Me"). New music got more attention. As it should be for an artist creating sounds and ideas for the present.
Where: House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim
When: 9 tonight
Contact: (714) 778-2583