THE SISTERS OF MERCY (+ Black Moth)
Rock City, Nottingham
Despite not having released a studio album in 25 years, this hasn't stopped Andrew Eldritch and his Sisters Of Mercy from touring nearly every year since. As a studio act the band crafted three individual albums that have each gone on to spawn wave after wave of imitators in the years since; 'First And Last And Always' (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year) with it's icy guitars and mechanical beats defined gothic rock. The Wagnerian synth-driven 'Floodland' in 1987 took the band to top 40 success in several countries. While 1990's 'Vision Thing' with it's hard rock guitars ensured their place as an international act.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the band now comprised of Andrew Eldritch, Ben Christo and Chris Catalyst are still packing the faithful in with ease. There may be criticisms levelled at Eldritch that his voice has lost it's range, and that the reworked classics have lost some of their original charm. But that is by the by. Eldritch has always been more comfortable with his baritone croon than with trying to hit the high notes, so at 56 it is unsurprising that he has dispensed with them entirely. And as for the reworked songs... the fact that this tour sold out in advance says it all.
First up tonight at the cosy Rock City venue in Nottingham is Leeds band Black Moth. With a heavy does of 'Vol. 4' era Black Sabbath in their sound it seems like an unusual fit for a Sisters support slot. However keep in mind the sisters did tour once with Public Enemy. The female fronted doom metal / classic rock act only have half-an-hour, but they use it wisely converting a large swathe of the audience with ease. Thirty minutes wasn't enough to do Black Moth the justice they deserved. Their skilful riffing, key changes and tempo switches were a pleasure to see live. It is a faultless performance from the entire band.
The Sisters Of Mercy take to the stage promptly through a haze of backlit dry ice to the throbbing bass and rhythms of 'Kiss The Carpet'. The set is comprised of a nice spread of classics with particular attention paid to the earlier material as the likes of 'Body Electric', 'Alice', 'No Time To Cry', 'First and Last And Always', and 'Valentine' sit comfortably next to their unreleased recent works 'Crash And Burn', and 'Arms'. The Sisterhood's 'Jihad' is a welcome inclusion, as are the rousing renditions of 'Ribbons', 'Dr Jeep/Detonation Boulevard', 'Flood II' and 'Dominion/Mother Russia'.
The band are on top form, Andrew Eldritch delivers a strong vocal performance and engages with the audience throughout the set. The first of two encores crams in a power ballad reworking of '1959', which Eldritch predicts “we will hate” yet it still receives a big ovation from the crowd. 'This Corrosion' and 'Temple Of Love' follow on and enjoy some of the loudest sing-along moments of the night.
The second encore keeps to the last two albums with 'Lucretia My Reflection', 'Vision Thing' and 'More' closing the set in a big way. The response from the crowd is rapturous. The energy is high, the atmosphere is electric throughout and the band feed off it. As Eldritch perfectly sums the evening up before leaving the stage for the last time; “We have played a lot of gigs. But tonight... Tonight was a party”.
Despite 25 years since a new album, The Sisters Of Mercy seem to be enjoying themselves more than ever. The songs feel well developed, the performance was tight and well rehearsed, and the execution was everything that you could have wanted. There is a reason they can still draw a crowd and it is evident for all to see tonight.