The experience of woe is central to the whole shtick of gothic rock. Bleak, melancholic introspection is its bread and butter. But this gig by 1980s powerhouse Andrew Eldritch (and his nondescript minions) was just ‘woeful’ in the more colloquial sense of the word.
There was no charm here, no conviction. Instead, we got Eldritch and either side of him two energetic guitarists that may as well have been pole dancers.
Oh, and a guy twiddling his thumbs behind a bunch of laptops. And there was smoke. Lots of smoke.
The whole thing, then, passed off as a willful dereliction of one of the most spellbinding musical oeuvres of the 1980s. The Sisters of Mercy had numerous line-ups during their heyday but their early EPs and first two albums are just bloody amazing rock records. And Eldritch, despite a limited vocal range, was a genuinely captivating singer and a wonderful lyricist. In Vicar Street, amidst all the smoke and mirrors, Eldritch’s voice was so low in the torpid and tinny mix that most of the time it was impossible to hear him.
There were momentary moments of relief in the otherwise largely abject performance, among them the irresistible stomp of ‘Dominion’ and the deranged charge of ‘Alice’. The latter even found Eldritch emerging from his perverse languor to offer a few howls of old. But mostly it was insufferable and drab, most of the tunes sounding like eviscerated ring-tones with a guy very vaguely mumbling over the top of them. It’s a sad pass for an artist who once had such an incredible ear for sonics.
Alas, that all seems a long, long time ago and the Sisters of Mercy would now appear to be departed and gone.