The Sisters Of Mercy @ Rock City, Nottingham, UK | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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The Sisters Of Mercy @ Rock City, Nottingham, UK, March 11th, 2020

Mar 14, 2020 Web Exclusive Photography by Jonathan Kirton (live shots) Bookmark and Share


If one band has ever become synonymous with a particular venue it would have to be The Sisters Of Mercy and Nottingham's Rock City. Both legendary institutions in their own fields and each celebrating forty years on this mortal coil, having initially began as entities back in 1980. It goes without saying that many Saturday nights of one's teenage years would be spent on Rock City's infamous dancefloor spilling pints of cider whilst gyrating badly to "The Temple Of Love". So it's quite fitting The Sisters Of Mercy's long awaited return to the live arena finds them playing their spiritual home for the first time in five years.

A lot has changed in that time, not least the Sisters' personnel once more. While founder and mouthpiece Andrew Eldritch has remained omnipresent throughout, a revolving cast of players around him has often delivered mixed results. So it was quite refreshing in the lead up to these shows at the outset of what promises to be a busy year for the Sisters that they seem to be more about the sum of their parts once more. Prior to their first show in Manchester last week, a promotional photograph emerged introducing the band and in particular most recent addition, guitarist Dylan Smith.

Sisters

Standing alongside Eldritch, fellow guitarist Ben Christo - now approaching his fifteenth year in the band making him the longest serving Sister bar their creator - and Dave "Ravey Davey" Creffield, "nurse" to the tried and trusted Doktor Avalanche. Smith cuts a striking figure. For the first time in over three decades The Sisters Of Mercy look like a gang that means business, so it probably shouldn't come as a surprise they have a number of new songs in tow.

Not that a Sisters Of Mercy set containing brand new songs is anything unique to anyone that's seen them live over the past twenty years. Indeed, their shows have been littered with dozens of unreleased songs - some that remained staples of the band's sets for almost two decades without ever seeing the light of day. So it's not as if we haven't been here before. Yet from the moment the band set foot on the Rock City stage, there's a renewed sense of urgency. This feels like a band revitalized and ready for action.

So while a rapturous rendition of "Lucretia My Reflection" opens the set. Its verses and chorus bellowed back with a fervor normally reserved for a church congregation prior to holy communion being served. There's an initial sense of trepidation when they follow it with the first of five brand new songs played this evening. Entitled "I Will Call You" and lasting just over three minutes in total, any doubts or fears immediately turn to elation by its close. The song itself sounding not too dissimilar to some of the sprightly moments off 1985's debut LP First And Last And Always, ironically released 35 years ago today.

The next of those new songs "But Genevieve" has an industrial feel to it. While not exactly a million miles from the sonic template of 1990's Vision Thing, the Sisters' third and most recent album. It highlights a heavier and in places, more introspective palette than many of the unreleased compositions that have come and gone since the band's last recorded output. While Eldritch remains a key focal point and rightly so, his vocal performance flawless throughout. Both Christo and Smith appear animated throughout. Often driving the songs from their respective flanks either side of Eldritch. The third of these, "Show Me On The Doll" takes the mood down a little. Its slow burning instrumental build up giving way to a poignant vocal delivery by Eldritch that ranks alongside his best to date.

Of the other two new ones, both left until the tail end of the set. Each offers a distinctly different side to the band's make up. While the unimaginatively titled "Instrumental" does what it says on the tin, it harks back to the days of "Phantom" or "Kiss The Carpet" off 1983's Alice and Reptile House EPs respectively. Punctuated by Doktor Avalanche's sequential beats and pumping bassline, it provides a rare opportunity for both guitarists to take centre stage. At the opposite end of the scale, "Black Sail" is another industrial based heavy that has a borderline anthemic quality about it. Comparisons with any of the band's recorded output are difficult to find but it appears to be a close cousin of "Crash And Burn", one of those aforementioned unreleased songs that's often been played in recent years but finds itself omitted this evening.

Sisters

Elsewhere, each era of the band is well represented. While "Alice" and "The Temple Of Love" offer nostalgic throwbacks to those present when the Sisters' first played Rock City in May 1984, the likes of "Dominion" and "This Corrosion" remind us of a time when they were regulars on Top Of The Pops and daytime Radio One.

However, it is on the later material that Eldritch and co seem most comfortable. In particular a blistering "Doctor Jeep" which becomes married into "Detonation Boulevard". Then even more incisively on a rousing "More" towards the end of the evening. Which once again preempts the ninety-six million question. Will The Sisters Of Mercy make another album? If tonight's performance is anything to by the songs are most definitely there and the band back to their resounding best, so now is almost certainly as good a time as any. We live in hope. 

 

 




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