In the beginning it is only the percussion. After the other men bring in the instrumentals, Siouxsie glides onto the stage to the cheers of nearly 100,000 concertgoers at the inaugural Lollapalooza in 1991. Put yourself at the show. Go back to 1991 and imagine you are there witnessing this song. Sure her get up is a little strange but they had just transitioned into the nineties. Give her gypsy attire a break. When she reaches the microphone, she hushes the crown with seductive silence.
“In the sharp gust of love, my memory stirred…”
At first she is just entertaining. She is putting on a show for the audience. But very early into the song, she reaches up and grabs the microphone with both hands and it is obvious that nothing else matters to her anymore. She is lost. She is in love. The occasional screams from the crowd die down.
They are a sea of embracing souls. They don’t know what it is, why they feel this way, or even what they are in love with. They feel their hair stand up, the tingle down their back like a warm bead sliding down. They are lost just like her now, seduced and lost. Their movements are no longer forced, they are no longer interested in the drinks in their hands or the snack they were chewing on. Those with their lovers cannot help but look to each other and those alone cannot stray their gaze from the stage. They look into her eyes and for five and a half minutes get to feel what she has.
It is no longer a sea of individuals. It is no longer a band performing. Everyone feels it. Siouxsie is singing and playing the guitar and the accordion and watching from the crowd, and is holding up the line at concessions.
Watch the way she moves. It is total impulse that she is letting take over her. She lets the lyrics she wrote with her lover take total control over her. It is pumping through her veins, she feels light, like she could almost float off the stage. Every breath she takes seems a drug. It brings her a freedom of life that nothing else in the world can. She sings about staying with this man for the rest of her life.
“Reach out your hands,” she sings.
She sings about the last beat of her heart and her desire to be with him till then. It is overwhelming to her “to wish to never be torn apart.” She feels crazy to be feeling this way about another person. She feels no one could possibly understand, it is too illogical to want something this badly. She has no clue but everyone empathizes with her words. Some envy her for the feeling they once had and for others love is rejuvenated.
She sings “here and now, long and loud, my heart cries out,” and two lovers reach for one another’s touch. “Reach out your hands.”
When the song is over, some cheer, others stand there in shock. They feel the same way they did when they first loved. Their legs tremble, their heart races. They haven’t blinked in minutes. They look at their feet, then to their left and to their right. They remember where they are. For a while they drifted away, and now they are back on the planet Earth. It felt like an eternity to them. Time stopped for them while she sang. But they are back and they are reborn. They will remember this day for the rest of their lives. They will be able to love again the way they first did.
Devotchka covered the song and you can hear they felt the same way Siouxsie did. From a band name meaning “girl” in Russian, it is understandable that the feeling of love would be able to take over their music. You can hear the passion in Nick Urata’s voice. Also, in Devotchka’s cover I hear so much more passion from accompanying band members than in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ version. Devotchka pulls me in with the passion, the throbbing beats and the aggressive strums. It seems more a story about the strong desire accompanying love than Siouxsie’s. She sings about the gentler side of the feeling, the gentle compassion. Devotchka fully encompasses the feeling of passion with their music, the romantic love, the lust, the attraction, the desire.
Siouxsie sang with the original emotion, but while she felt silly for such an emotional pull, Devotchka embraced the absurdity of such desire. They know that everyone has felt it and they sing with pride and confidence in what they know everyone will understand. They know that love only looks silly from our eyes.