Entertainment Music

Tuesday 25 July 2017

ROCK

Sisters of Mercy

Ed Power

Ed Power

Olympia, Dublin

As a rock band that, among other grisly obsessions, have a prurient interest in death and dying, it is appropriate that goth icons Sisters Of Mercy should enjoy the strangest afterlife of any musical concern in recent history.

It's nearly 20 years since the Sisters last released new material. A spat between frontman Andrew Eldritch and his record label -- allied to his belief that albums are a largely pointless exercise -- plunged them into a twilight existence as murky as the dry ice that floods the room as the group troop moodily on stage.

Nowadays, the Sisters exist exclusively as a touring entity; Eldritch (real name Andrew Taylor) dusting down the brand every few years for a lucrative reunion.

Whatever else has kept the band ticking over, it's clear charm and empathy have little to do with it.

"We are the friends to the friendless," Eldritch hoarsely intones at one point, and apart from announcing Ireland have gone 2-0 up in Tallinn, it's the only banter all evening.

Musically, Sisters' songs fall into two categories: epic and overblown and ridiculously epic and overblown (a possible exception is their biggest hit, 'Temple of Love', which is ridiculously epic and overblown with a woman scatting in a Middle Eastern fashion on top).

Chugging

Starting with the sort of chugging riff every heavy rock band on the planet would trade at least one vital organ for, 'Dominion/Mother Russia', is a rampaging Frankenstein monster of a tune.

Even more over the top is 'This Corrosion', the Goth rock equivalent of a Roland Emmerich movie in 3-D surround sound.

Throughout, the frontman is scowling dispassionately, while the guitarist and bassist might as well be showroom dummies for all their engagement (rather than a percussionist, the Sisters use a drum machine christened Dr Avalanche).

Indeed, with all the dry ice and the black-clad punters barely bobbing their heads, there's a distinct whiff of Halloween karaoke to the whole affair -- it feels more like a playback of the Sisters' greatest hits than a rock show.

Still, for all their aloofness, the Sisters of Mercy deliver a singular mix of the schlocky, the portentous and the spikily intelligent.

You'd have to be as stony as Eldritch not to be swept off your feet just a little.

Irish Independent

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