Support: Mojo Fury
I'll start this review by mentioning that this was my first time seeing the Sisters Of Mercy. I say that because going to a gig of a band that you aren't that familiar with can be quite daunting anyway but that is especially true when:
- The band in question has so many hard core fans
- I wouldn’t necessarily have the right 'gear' to wear and so wouldn’t look the part
- You go with someone who is a huge devotee (yes you Louis)
- You end up trying too hard to fit in and as a result stand out like a sore thumb
Well as tonight was my first time I thought I would make the effort. Wearing as much black as possible (it’s like wearing blue denim at a Status Quo gig. Essential) I headed into the gig with friend and ‘Sisters nut’, Louis. It was only when we met before the gig that he told me I shouldn't have worried because as he said "it will be lots of dodgy thirty-something’s anyway so I don’t think its going to be hard-core Goth fest".
2011 marks their 30th anniversary and although the last studio album was released in 1990 I was well aware that there was much more to the story than that. The band is basically Andrew Eldritch. Well ok in recent years Chris Catalyst and Ben Christo play guitars and let's not forget Doktor Avalanche (http://www.the-sisters-of-mercy.com/tech/doktors.htm) but essentially for thirty years it has been Eldritch's baby.
I have the band's three studio albums and have always liked the music but I had heard that live they were a different experience altogether. It was 1990's Vision Thing that first got me into the band (yes I was a late starter) but it was '92 before I met Louis and he gave me copies of the other albums. At the time Louis was always dressed in black, wore black eyeliner and had white make up. I have to say he scared me a little bit (still does if truth be told). In hindsight it was the classic ‘Goth’ look I guess. It is interesting to see that Eldritch wears a bright shirt and has the shaved head now. So are they no longer Goth? Apparently that's a touchy subject. Louis pointed out that Eldritch gets a little miffed if the band are described as Goth (Found this on the web: Andrew Eldritch has been known to lose his shit when anybody refers to the Sisters as Goth, even though the entire Goth community regards them as one of the most iconic Goth bands ever).
Louis had warned me that there would be unreleased songs played and I had managed to use the Internet to good effect to listen to some of those but it was always going to be the songs I was familiar with that would be the highlights for me. Apparently the band vary their set lists quite a bit so no one is ever sure what is coming next. That adds to the atmosphere for me as nothing is predictable. Tonight the whole theatre was with them from the off as they opened with the fantastic First and Last and Always. The two guitars in combination with the brooding vocals (backed by Dr A) created a wall of sound. The house was rocking....except it seems that no one really moshes at these concerts. I was dying to jump up and down but apparently that is not the done thing at a Sisters of Mercy gig. Swaying to the music is more the norm and so I would have to calm my natural instinct as a result.
The second noticeable difference was the lighting. Purposefully set up to create the 'right mood', the band can hardly be seen on stage. Lights are aimed in such a way that, in combination with the dry ice (the place was full of the stuff), all you really see on stage are three silhouettes. It sounds strange but actually it really works in this setting.
Ribbons, Destination Boulevard, Dominion / Mother Russia, This Corrosion, Flood II are all superb, but then again fans of the band already know that. For me though the songs were a revelation live. Of the unreleased tracks performed tonight, Crash and Burn was a favourite (it has been played live for over ten years apparently so is hardly new of course). There were others that I had never heard before and in truth some were a little lost on me.
Encoring first with the sublime Something Fast and More, followed up with second encore, Lucretia My Reflection, Vision Thing and Temple Of Love, was a superb way to finish….there is no way you can avoid moshing to those surely? Well I started jumping to More before realising that no one else around me was. I stopped, frustrated yes, but the head swaying would have to do.
I'm not sure how many 'first timers' there were at the gig. Not a lot I would guess. Although as it was the band's first show in Ireland in fifteen years it’s quite possible that there was more than usual. Each song was greeted like an old friend and as the crowd sang back every word I realised that this was a group with a loyal fan base.
Great gig tonight. Not sure why it has taken me this long to see them live. Delighted I did but I definitely felt like an outsider at times and it really needs a true fan to review the gig properly. I have filled this with a few Goth clichés and the like. For that I apologise. Hopefully Louis will put a review up at a later date if I can persuade him…not sure if he will…you know what those Goths can be like.
Ticket: November 11th 2011
Ticket Price: €33.00