No Mercy: Sisters are doing it for themselves

Sisters of Mercy. Photo: Michael Palmer
Sisters of Mercy. Photo: Michael Palmer

LOVE is a many splintered thing… but fans of ’80s indi rock stars The Sisters of Mercy were not afraid.

They walked right in to see the band open its first Australian tour in seven years.

Despite the protestations of lead singer and original member Andrew Eldritch (he and drum and now bass machine Doktor Avalanche are the sole remaining founders in the band) the Sisters are a figurehead movement for goth music.

Because of contractual disputes the band has not made any new commercial releases since 1993, so it was no wonder the show felt like a ‘best of’.

The Sisters have managed to keep up a touring schedule for its faithful fans in Europe and last came to Perth as the closing act of the 2012 Big Day Out.

This time they were in the more cosy confines of the Astor Theatre and a sea of black clothes welcomed them on stage with the opening notes of More.

Photo: Michael Palmer

The set list was full of the old danceclub favourites – Alice, Dominion/Mother Russia, Marian and encore closer Temple of Love – and a surprise inclusion of No Time to Cry as well as the more acoustic I Was Wrong.

Audience reaction to newer, unreleased songs such as Crash and Burn and Show Me was at first more muted.

At times Eldritch’s vocals were overpowered by the backing vocals and guitars.

The original Sisters’ line up included a bassist but in recent years Doktor Avalanche has pulled double duty on the drum machine and bass.

This took away the some of the warmth of the bass lines in the original releases and made them weaker than the guitars.

When they began the Sisters were something original, but now they seem to have adopted the cliche of arena rockers, with the guitarists posing with their feet on the speaker stacks and wailing away, perhaps proving Eldritch’s protestations that they’re not a goth band.

Adding weight to this was the decision to play all but one of the tracks from Vision Thing, the last album they released (almost 30 years ago!) and the most guitar-orientated of their work.

However, it would have been a brave decision not to play the classics that have filled many a dancefloor and brought parents and their grown up children out to see a goth legend.

The safest way, the straight and narrow – no confusion, no surprise.