The Sisters of Mercy @Gazi Music Hall Athens 13/09/2019
REVIEW by Malice F. for Electrowelt.com
I hear the roar of a big machine…
The announcement of The Sisters of Mercy tour dates always makes headlines in the dark, goth and wide underground scene. Since 1980, the year they began their journey in Leeds, because they simply wanted to hear themselves on the radio, the band’s front man has made it crystal clear that he does not appreciate his association with the gothic scene and he considers his band as a rock kind of style music formation.
The fact remains though that Sisters of Mercy defined the gothic and dark wave scene, inspired and keep inspiring so many bands in and outside this scene.
The masterpieces created by SoM have accompanied us through life, death, laughter and tears.
I won’t lie to you all, I am a huge fan of Mr Eldritch and his musical genius, as well as of the early formation of Sisters of Mercy. I have seen them live on stage in festivals abroad, as well as in Athens and my home town, Thessaloniki, at least 10 times. I find it incomprehensible, as much as annoying, that some people post so negative, derogatory comments and paint their concerts in the most unflattering way, through reviews or their facebook pages of course, where everybody is an expert in all kind of things.
I know, I understand all the whimpering how he hasn’t released new material for over 2 decades, but we are talking about a music legend, we don’t have that many or the opportunity to admire one live on stage, so I feel we should grab and treasure every opportunity that presents itself to see him and his band live and to sing along to all these magnificent dark anthems; to even care about other fans who travel even from other countries to catch their idol live on stage, to enjoy a concert or promoters who invested their money in these gigs in such difficult financial times. I solemnly declare that the emotion, atmosphere and nostalgia of a Sisters of Mercy concert is among the very few amazing concerts that someone can experience and count on the fingers of one hand.
I still remember the excitement and deep emotion I felt when I first saw them live in Athens at Rockwave Festival in 1997; the very first song of the set list was the epic “Some Kind of Stranger” combined with “Comfortably Numb”; what a unique feeling that I wish everybody could experience in a concert. Another memorable Sisters of Mercy live experience was at Amphi Festival in Cologne in 2012, where the band made their first appearance at this German festival, as the headliner for day 1. The band’s performance was very energetic and the evening’s highlight was when the Irish singer and pianist Lisa Cuthbert joined them on stage on backing vocals for “Dominion”, “Arms” and “Temple of Love”, as well as her performance in a version of “This Corrosion” on an electric piano.
Back to Friday the 13th 2019: Unfortunately, due to “technical” communication issues, I got my accreditation’s confirmation late in the day and I wasn’t able to make it in time for the support act, A.A. Williams, which I wanted to check out and take pics of. So we apologize for the lack of info and material regarding A. A. Williams, a very promising artist.
The Gazi Music Hall venue was full, I have the distinct impression not as packed as the last time they visited Athens in 2015, but the atmosphere and sweet feeling of anticipation was as intense as last time. A lot of smoke, not due to the fog machines as we are accustomed to in other Sisters of Mercy gigs, but because almost everybody was smoking inside the venue.
Shortly after 22:30, Andrew Eldritch appeared on stage and he was accompanied by his 2 guitar players, Ben Christo, who has toured with him since 2006, on his right and Dylan Smith on his left. They accompanied successfully, although I did not like all of their vocals. The front man often hugged Christo and sang with him. In the background, we could see the 4th band stage member, Ravey Davey, the first operator of Dr Avalanche, the famous Sisters of Mercy drum machine. He was again in charge and incredibly active at the background, he seemed to really enjoy himself; he fed of the audience’s reactions.
They started off with “More”, in a hard rock version which I enjoyed, and the wonderful “Ribbons” followed. With “No Time to Cry”, “Alice” and “First and Last and Always” the temperature heated and the legendary front man seemed to enjoy himself feeding of the audience’s reactions (something that I personally have seen maybe 2 times before in previous gigs) and to connect with the audience.
The fans cheered and sang along. There was an impressive lightshow; the front man performed often reacting to the big spotlights aimed at his face.
He was more active on stage than previous times; he often retired to the back side of stage in a cloud of smoke.
Right before “Dominion/Mother Russia”, Mr Eldritch let us know that this song moves him deeply and brings tears to his eyes.
His voice sounded exceptional, dark and haunting; overall the concert’s sound was very god.
With little delay, the much anticipated encore followed with three major SoM hits without Lucretia, My Reflection, due to the sudden indisposition of Andrew Eldritch, who was rushed off the stage immediately. So the night ended with “Vision Thing”, “Temple of Love” and “This Corrosion”. I wish we could have listened to “Amphetamine Logic”, “On the Wire” or “Body Electric”, but I counted my blessings.
To sum up, an awesome Sisters of Mercy gig, for all the fans from all scenes attending. And we will keep paying our respects, each time Mr Eldritch decides to visit us for a concert.
Doctor Jeep / Detonation Boulevard
Crash and Burn
No Time to Cry
First and Last and Always
We Are the Same, Susanne
I Was Wrong
Temple of Love