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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 57.05)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • None
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage

Siouxsie and the Banshees - The Seven Year Itch

Sanctuary/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . E . PAL


It’s been quite a relief, over the past year or so, to see music DVD releases from bands and artists other than the tired middle-of-the-road triumphs of blandness that dominated the format’s early years. Back in those early days of DVD it would have seemed inconceivable that you’d be able to find more edgy, adventurous music to enjoy on your shiny new player, but fortunately the sheer popularity of the format has spearheaded a change of thinking from record companies. And that brings us to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

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Siouxsie Sioux

Formed way back in 1976 in the midst of England’s punk explosion, this was a band that was determinedly, uncompromisingly original right from the outset. Dark, tribal, majestic and evocative, their music took the unique, soaring voice of Siouxsie Sioux (real name Susan Dallion) and laid it atop Steve Severin’s rumbling, menacing bass guitar and the intricate and urgent drumming of the curiously-named Budgie (real name Peter Clarke), who’d previously played in the short-lived but future-big-name-filled Big in Japan. Over 11 albums released from 1978 through to 1995, the band went through several guitarists (including The Cure’s Robert Smith), evolving as they went but always staying true to the unique genre they’d inadvertently created just for themselves. Nobody else has ever sounded like Siouxsie and the Banshees, and when they called it a day in 1996 it was, despite a disappointing final album in The Rapture, the end of something truly special.

Last year, though, the band did what some might see as the fashionable thing, getting back together for a reunion tour that they dubbed “The Seven Year Itch” (it had been that long since the release of their final album). Now, recent history is littered with the sad, bloated carcasses of fondly-remembered bands and artists trying their luck on the “let’s run through the greatest hits to help pay the rent” tour circuit, but Siouxsie and the Banshees had other ideas. Rather than doing a live version of their singles compilation albums to please the mass audience who’d discovered them through their later records (including a song on the Batman Returns soundtrack), they opted to venture right back to the earliest releases and play the stuff that long-time fans wanted to hear.

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The Seven Year Itch, recorded on digital video at a show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London on 10th July 2002, is a revelation. Siouxsie and her band stick mostly to the first four albums (they venture further forward in the catalogue only briefly, and two of those are B-sides) and it’s a safe bet that they’ve never played some of these songs as well before; to hear these dark, driving songs played by a band that’s honed their skill for so long is a sight and sound that will send chills down the spine of any Banshees fan - just listen to Pure or Jigsaw Feeling and compare them to their recorded counterparts, or try the hypnotic Night Shift and Voodoo Dolly in comparison to the live versions captured 20 years ago on the Nocturne album and video.

The band are in fine form; Budgie and Severin have always been one of the most unique rhythm sections in rock, and here they play off each other as though it was second nature (and it probably is by now). Impressively, Budgie manages to recreate the complex drum patterns of most of the songs right down to the fine details. Meanwhile on guitar we have the rather stressed-looking Knox Chandler (yep, another ring-in - he formerly played with The Golden Palominos and, very briefly, with the late-period Psychedelic Furs). Having been given the closely-guarded secrets of the Banshees guitar sound, he does a decent job of reproducing the feel of the original songs, even if he does occasionally veer off on tangents of his own (not all of them tonal, either!) And Siouxsie, enjoying herself almost as much as the constantly-smiling Budgie, is in fine voice for most of the songs; curiously, it’s only on some of the more widely-familiar offerings like Spellbound and Cities in Dust that she seems to struggle, not just with pitch but with the rhythm itself. Fortunately, these are isolated occurrences, and while some may be left scratching their heads at the Banshee “adaptation” of The Beatles’ Blue Jay Way, they’re happy to throw in early classic Monitor before finishing up with a brave attempt at their most production-dependent song, Peek-A-Boo, complete with backing tapes and a Japanese frog chorus (yes, really!)

The track listing, which will likely have long-time fans salivating, is...

  1. Pure
  2. Jigsaw Feeling
  3. Metal Postcard
  4. Red Light
  5. Happy House
  6. Christine
  7. Lullaby
  8. Land’s End
  9. Cities in Dust
  10. I Could Be Again
  11. Icon
  12. Night Shift
  13. Voodoo Dolly
  14. Spellbound
  15. Blue Jay Way
  16. Monitor
  17. Peek-A-Boo


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Steve Severin
Shot on what appears to be Digital Betacam and presented at a 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1, The Seven Year Itch looks terrific. While shunning the hyperactive editing and camerawork so beloved of some recent live videos - it would have worked with this music - director Nick Wickham uses the stage lighting to full advantage, the result decidedly theatrical. It’s a very film-like image throughout, and the decided lack of edge enhancement during the mastering process helps greatly in that department. Colour is strong and solid throughout (try those solid reds on VHS and see how they go!) There’s really nothing to fault here visually; the DVD is an accurate representation of the master, with no compression problems to get in the way. The encoding bitrate is extremely high, which helps greatly.

The layer change is a little bit abrupt - obviously it’s hard to shoehorn a layer change into a continuous live concert anywhere, but surely a better place could have been found that the one used here. A reluctant single point comes off the video score for this gaffe.


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Siouxsie versus Enthusiastic Lighting Guy
While the default soundtrack is a Dolby 2.0 stereo mix, we suggest you opt for one of the 5.1 tracks instead if you’re so equipped - and preferably the DTS track rather than the Dolby. The reason is simple: the key role that low frequencies play in the Banshees’ music means that the addition of an LFE channel is almost mandatory, and once you’ve heard the surround mix with its earth-moving bottom end, you won’t ever want to listen to boring old stereo again. The DTS track wins easily here, largely because of the different way DTS handles sub-bass; there’s a lot more boom for your buck in DTS, and fidelity seems noticeably better as well on this occasion. It’s also louder than the Dolby tracks, which is fairly normal.

The mix itself mainly uses the left and right front speakers (the centre is barely used at all, except for some very quiet spill designed to improve imaging) with the surrounds restricted to audience and auditorium sounds (including the echo of high frequencies from the back wall). It’s a very realistic mix - very much like being right there in the Empire at the time. While there’s maybe a lack of bite to the transients on Siouxsie’s vocals and Budgie’s snare, overall this is very, very impressive live audio (mixed, incidentally, by veteran British engineer Tim Summerhayes, who also did mixing duties on Nocturne two decades ago).


The stylish animated menus (with full 5.1 surround sound) lead to only two bonus features, and while they’re nothing to get massively excited about, they do make for a nice companion to the concert itself (and should be played before the main feature for best effect). Both are in anamorphic 16:9 with stereo sound.

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"See? We still have fans - they're right there!"

Backstage Budgie: In which the intrepid Budgie takes the viewer on an impromptu ten-minute guided tour of the backstage area of the Empire, as support act (and frog chorus) eX-Girl do their soundcheck. The seriousness of the band’s music may lead to some people being surprised at Budgie’s persona - he’s an affable, funny and decidedly cheerful man, and his encounter with a pair of fans outside the theatre during this section is particularly amusing.

Getting Ready to Scratch: A six and a half minute look at the Banshees soundcheck and the backstage area as the band gets ready to go on stage. Don’t expect any Spinal Tap antics around here, though - this backstage area is all calm professionalism and quiet discussion.


Sure to be hugely appreciated by the band’s many loyal fans, The Seven Year Itch proves that while Siouxsie and the Banshees have passed the quarter-century mark as a going concern, they’ve lost none of their edge. They’re one of a kind, and this extremely well-produced live disc proves that beyond doubt.

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      And I quote...
    "While Siouxsie and the Banshees have passed the quarter-century mark as a going concern, they’ve lost none of their edge."
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Panasonic - The One
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB870
    • Speakers:
          Klipsch Tangent 500
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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