The Sisters of Mercy @ Rock City, Nottingham, UK, November 19, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy, The Virginmarys

The Sisters of Mercy @ Rock City, Nottingham, UK, November 19, 2023,

Nov 24, 2023 Photography by Chris Gleed-Owen Web Exclusive
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Having been active over four decades with a legacy that spreads far and wide from city to continent, its somewhat mystifying that The Sisters of Mercy’s recorded output is actually quite sparse. With just three albums - the last of which came out in 1990 - and a dozen or so EPs and singles to their name, the appetite for their live shows is as buoyant now as it ever was. This latest jaunt to one of the band’s spiritual homes, Nottingham Rock City, sold out almost immediately after being announced. As did pretty much every other show on this tour, both in the UK and elsewhere. Which in itself is pretty impressive for a band with nothing to promote despite having no shortage of new material.

The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy

Before the headliners took to the stage, those that arrived early (and why wouldn’t you?) were treated to an excellent set from Macclesfield-based duo The Virginmarys. While the two-piece set up of guitar, drums and twin vocals isn’t exactly a new concept, The Virginmarys have enough in their lockers to suggest they’re among the more interesting acts of a similar kind. Musically veering between No Age at their most primal, Troublegum era Therapy? and even a touch of The Wildhearts in Ally Dickaty’s high octane riffs and punchy vocals, they’re one of the most exciting openers Under the Radar has seen in a while. Opening with last year’s excellent 45 “The Meds” that introduces their no nonsense approach with a bang, the duo then rattle through ten more exuberant numbers, human drum machine Danny Dolan as much of a focal point as singer/guitarist Dickaty out front. With a back catalogue as extensive as the headline act, we implore you check them out and start at the very beginning with 2008’s debut Self Medication. You will not be disappointed!

The Virginmarys
The Virginmarys
The Virginmarys
The Virginmarys

Rewind the clock back to March 2020 and The Sisters of Mercy actually played the last gig yours truly attended before the world closed down for the best part of eighteen months. In that time, the Sisters have undergone more line-up changes - new guitarist Kai from Japanese metal band Esprit d’Air cutting an impressive figure alongside long serving fellow six-stringer Ben Christo and the inimitable Andrew Eldritch, while trusty drum machine Doktor Avalanche provides the backbeat from the shadows. They’ve also added yet more new songs to their repertoire which only adds more speculation as to whether any of these might see the light of day any time soon.

The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy

The first of these entitled “Don’t Drive On Ice” fits impeccably between the opening segue of “Doctor Jeep” into “Detonation Boulevard” then sandwiched by a heavily orchestrated “Ribbons”, providing an early flavour of the band’s most recent long player Vision Thing. Others like “I Will Call You” and “But Genevieve” have been in the set a few years now, so have become slightly familiar to those who’ve seen them in the flesh several times this past decade. Another new one “Caligula” could be a throwback to the mid-eighties post-punk sound which introduced the band to many in the first place. Its inclusion in the set betwixt First And Last And Always staple “Marian” and post-break-up single “Giving Ground” (released by Eldritch in 1986 as The Sisterhood) definitely more by coherence than chance.

The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy

Elsewhere, the stoic “Here” and discordant “On The Beach” provide further examples of the Sisters’ new material; again, each displaying very different sides of the band’s make-up. While the more familar tones of early single “The Temple Of Love” brings the first set to a close. While it’s to their credit a good 40% of the set is previously unreleased, new compositions. It’s also great to hear some of the songs that elevated them to legendary status in the first place. “Alice”, the oldest song in tonight’s set is dispatched early to wondrous applause, while 1990’s “More” - a top twenty single when artists had to sell a lot of records to hit such dizzy heights - also raises the roof.

The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy

Nevertheless, it’s during the encore when temperatures reach boiling point. Namely thanks to the trio of singles off 1987’s Floodland - “Dominion”, “Lucretia My Reflection” and “This Corrosion” - with the former introduced by the saxophone-led “Sandstorm”. While there will always be people with their own favourite eras or line-ups of The Sisters of Mercy - and I advise anyone fascinated by their early years up to the first album to check out Mark Andrews’ excellent Paint My Name In Black And Gold - this present incarnation are on fire right now and with so many new songs to showcase, anything but an exercise in nostalgia. All that remains to be seen is whether there will be another Sisters of Mercy record.

The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy

We live in hope.

The Sisters of Mercy setlist
The Sisters of Mercy setlist



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