The Sisters of Mercy at The Olympia, Dublin

11-11-11

Legends of ‘goth’ The Sisters of Mercy disappeared in 1993 and little has been heard from them in the intervening 18 years. So logically I eschewed the delights of Ireland’s playoff to stride down memory lane, swapping the boys in green for… the black-clad variety. The worry with singer Andrew Eldritch the only original member, would they recapture past glories or be more like Goths ‘n’ Roses??

As expected there was more black on show than your average funeral, though fewer funny haircuts than I’d have liked. Support band, Mojo Fury kicked up a decent racket with slamming guitars and jerky rhythms. Hailing from Lisburn, they have a bit about them, a bit like a heavy version of The Cure and Muse’s love-child. Almost like “techno-rock”, played with energy and enthusiasm.

The Sisters came on to a rapturous reception. Doktor Avalanche, the only other constant member (a drum-machine) has been upgraded to THREE Apple laptops. The members of the band were pretty much invisible behind the wall of atmospheric dry ice as they launched into First and Last and Always, to ecstatic funny hand gestures from the audience, a feature of goth concerts.

Unfortunately the sound was a muddy mess, with the beats very prominent in the mix at the expense of everything else, which meant that it wasn’t a night for subtleties. When Eldritch emerged from the murk it was evident that the cruelties of the passing of time had been at work, he is now a little awkward, joined by relatively new members Ben Christo and Chris Catalyst.

Riff-based numbers like Train fared better, but the limitations of both the sound and the structure of the band became apparent. Without a live drummer the night lacked something, the ‘drums’ were almost too perfect, and many of the songs were sped up slightly and ended somewhat prematurely.

There were one or two interesting new songs, but the atmosphere was transformed by a rocked-up version of Dominion/Mother Russia. This Corrosion and the lesser-known On The Wire were celebratory, though Flood II suffered from Eldritch’s over the top, mangled vocals.

With the crowd 95% die-hards there was little disappointment in the air. The encore consisted of singalongs to Lucretia My Reflection, Temple of Love and a hard-rocking Vision Thing, and by now you could almost taste the dry ice.

Bemusement for the uninitiated (5%) then. The Sisters left behind some happy goths and a truckload of dry ice. The truth is they didn’t crash and burn Axl Rose style, but they didn’t scale the heights either.

Killian Laher

[Read an interview with with lead singer (and founding member) Andrew Eldritch]

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