Volume 91, Issue 71
Wednesday, February 4, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Sisters of Mercy for the masses
OPEN WIDER AND MAYBE YOU'LL SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE. Gothic godfather Andrew Eldritch allowed a glimpse of his eternally elusive self last Sunday night at The Warehouse in Toronto.
By Mark Di Menna and Lisa Weaver
A morbid procession of gaunt figures elegantly draped in dark velvet, with porcelain skin, smoky eyes and spider web hair gather in a large, dimly lit hall. Is this the setting of a solemn funeral, a quiet hour of mourning and remembrance? Well, the remembrance part is close to the truth.
Returning to Canada after a 10-year absence was one of the "gothic" scene's founding fathers Andrew Eldritch. The Sisters of Mercy played a sold-out show to a grim, but eager crowd on Sunday night at the Warehouse treating Toronto to one of only six North American dates on their 1998 Event Horizon tour.
Although the doors opened at 8 p.m., the music didn't start for two hours and while the absence of an opening act seemed to promise a good, long set, the show unfortunately lasted just under an hour and a half. With ticket prices over $35, one might have expected more and after such a long hiatus, fans had a right to expect a much more thorough revisitation of old favourites.
The stage show was about as exciting as could be expected, with ample amounts of smoke and strobe lights. The sound quality left much to be desired for the fanged audience, with Eldritch's sepulchral voice sometimes barely audible above the booming resonance of Doktor Avalanche, the Sisters' mainstay drum machine. Certainly a warehouse does not promise sterling acoustics, but a good sound crew and a little extra effort by the reclusive frontman might have improved the calibre of the performance.
The latest incarnation of the band broke the silence with the pointedly appropriate "First and Last and Always," worked through a sample of lesser-known tunes, including "Giving Ground," a track found on Eldritch's side project, The Sisterhood's release, Gift. The main set wound up to a spectacular finale of the definitive Sister's classic, "Temple of Love." Always one to treat fans to an unexpected cover, Eldritch eased into the first encore with a medley of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" and the emotive Sister's lament "Some Kind of Stranger."
Infamous for his hatred of the goth scene, Andrew Eldritch may have bent a few spooky white noses out of shape by the performance. He re-worked many songs, giving them a dancier, heavier feel, reminiscent of David Bowie's last album. And although the trademark aviator shades were still fixed firmly over Eldritch's drawn features, the darker image of yesteryear had been shed in favour of bleached hair and a pink Hawaiian shirt.
Any shortcomings aside, this show was a dream come true for long-time Sisters of Mercy fans who thought Eldritch had hung up his vinyl pants for good. Considering the devotion and deprivation of Sunday's crowd, Eldritch probably could have satisfied his fans simply by acknowledging them. Look for the new single in the next month or so, with a full length album to follow.
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