Sisters Of Mercy – Powerstation: October 25, 2022

Sisters Of Mercy returned to Auckland’s Powerstation last night and 13th Floor’s Simon Coffey was among those in attendance. Here’s his report.

(photographs by Ivan Karczewski)

Sisters of Mercy were once four: Andrew Eldritch, Gary Marx, Craig Adams and Ben Gunn, well five if you include the drum machine Doktor Avalanche’. As the decades have gone by, change has constantly transformed this band that grew out of the pre-gothic music scene aka Bauhaus/Souxsie & Banshees/The Cure, alongside acts such as The March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Xmal Deutschland and possibly Play Dead.

I still remember discovering them (at fabled record store of past years – Rock ‘n Roll Records in Fort Lane) in the 1980’s (83 or 84) their (hard to get) distinctly designed 7” and 12” singles being treasured by goths and punks alike, with the (1983) original release of Temple of Love being the holy grail (though Body Electric was always my most favourite)

42 years on and Sisters of Mercy are still with us. But… not long after signing to a major label in 1983, the original band started to fracture and continued fracturing through many, and I mean many, line-ups (excepting Andrew Eldritch and Doktor Avalanche’) but through it all, SoM still produced three astounding albums: First and Last and Alway(1985), Floodland (1987), and Vision Thing (1990) Then in 1993 it went all pete tong and the band (Andrew Eldritch) promptly stopped releasing new music, and to date have only released live and archival material, forever existing as a concert-only project.

Tonight, at The Powerstation, the band is; Dylan Smith (since 2019) Andrew Eldritch, Ben Christo (since 2006) Doktor Avalanche (drums, bass and keyboards) and Ravey Davey (the nurse to The Doktor).

Elko Fields

ELKO FIELDS were described to me as dark blues and garage rock ‘n’ roll created by a duo of guitarist/singer Kella Vee and Jhindu-Pedro Lawrie (drums/vocals). Likened to bands The Dead Weather for her unorthodox approach to rock and Royal Blood for their mammoth live presence. Brisbane based, this was their first time in New Zealand (I believe) While audience members, well some, enjoyed their performance, and I did get a Kills vibe, at times, it in the main felt like I was watching two very skilled session musicians in an Aussie Pub, playing favourite covers in a somewhat cliché manner.

Sisters Of Mercy

The band, Sisters of Mercy, use of visuals and sound certainly fits their zeitgeist brand, the use of Zeppelin spotting searchlight beams in blue light complimented the mix of orchestral soundscapes reminiscent of Roy Budd classic British 60 and 70’s movie soundtracks, caribbianesque beat interjections and Planet of the Apes (Charlton Heston) harmonics. As the smoke machine’s breath engulfed the stage, the sizeable audience of ardent 90s refugees and younger gothic renegades (possibly with their parents who will give them a lift home afterwards) surge forwards and were rewarded with the band’s presence.

The evening’s performance was launched with two unreleased songs, both politely received until a fan-favourite Ribbons set the crowd alight, and it was to this rhythm of highs and lows that the tempo was set for the evening’s energy. And this is where the challenge for many in the audience manifested itself. Not as Andrew Eldritch battled jet-leg and a less than spectacular voice, though as the evening progressed he gained more control and range. Not the rather low overall volume and the sometimes muddy guitar sound. But rather the consequences of not having released any of the new material the band has written for concert since 1993.

But, we were all out for a great night out and when Sisters of Mercy delivered from their three albums and two compilations, the audience were in gothic rapture, Andrew Eldritch alongside lead guitarist Ben Christo and ‘a giant of a man’ rhythm guitarist Dylan Smith delivered energised and on-point renditions of their highly polished and complex gothic anthems. Andrew Eldritch’s sublime and interdicted vocal style was ably supported by the two guitarists harmonising and back-ups, layering onto the machine provided beats, basslines, and occasional synth patches.

With 11 out of the 23 songs in the two-hour set, lacking that semiotic connection to many in the audience tonight, sometimes the songs were naked in the wilderness, but not all with But Genevieve being reminiscent Alice of the early singles period of the band (1982-1984) and Eyes of Caligula which could easily have fitted nicely on 1997’s Floodlands.

Having survived the ravages of the corporate music industry, Andrew Eldritch is a very clever fellow, and he knows that people are strange, they only remember the last 15 minutes of their life. So, I am sure it is a calculated act to have an encore of three of the most powerful Sisters of Mercy songs: Lucretia My Reflection, Temple of Love, and This Corrosion ensuring that his fans die-hard and opportunist walk away with a smile on their face.

Word has it while we may not expect any new albums from Sisters of Mercy in the next few decades (he reckons releasing records is a sure-fire way to lose money) Andrew Eldritch is writing a book on Soviet-era Science Fiction movies, though this too could be a fact or a fantasy.

Simon Coffey

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski

Sisters Of Mercy:

Elko Fields:

Sisters Of Mercy Setlist
Don’t Drive On Ice (unreleased)
Crash and Burn (unreleased)
Ribbons (Vision Thing 1990)
I Will Call You (unreleased)
First And Last And Always (First And Last And Always 1985)
But Genevieve (unreleased)
Alice (Alice single 1982)
Giving Ground (Sisterhood – Gift 1986)
Marian (First And Last And Always 1985)
More (Vision Thing 1990)
Show Me (unreleased)
Doctor Jeep/ Detonation Boulevard (Vision Thing 1990)

Eyes of Caligula (unreleased)
Something Fast (Vision Thing 1990)
I Was Wrong (Vision Thing 1990)
Here (unreleased)
Instrumental 86 (unreleased)

There’s A Door (unreleased)
Summer (unreleased)
When I’m On Fire (unreleased)

Encore
Lucretia My Reflection (Floodlands 1997)
Temple of Love (Alice single 1982/1992)
This Corrosion (Floodlands 1997)

Simon Coffey

1 COMMENT

  1. Nice review and sentiment. Pretty much as you wrote. I had my daughter who is now older than when I first saw the Sisters. It was her second viewing and says she definitely wants more.

    Loved the sound. Andrew was well connected despite the jetlag. I hope he looks after himself and his voice so that we can keep it going back.

    Must be my 10th gig, 3 in Auckland, previous mostly Leeds and Sheffield in 80s

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