11th October 2019
The Sisters Of Mercy & Support: A.A. Williams
It’s been a while since I saw THE SISTERS OF MERCY live and the gig had been sold-out for months when I arrived at the Tonhalle. The venue is known for being difficult coming to the sound and I hoped the sound engineer would know and avoid the traps of this venue. Since live guitarist Chris Catalyst announced that he would not join the band on the road this summer, I was curious how Dylan Smith would fit in. Everyone was dressed in black and the average age was mid-thirties to fifty, the venue was packed to the roof and it was incredibly hot.
A.A. WILLIAMS is signed to Holy Roar Records. She finds the balance between gentle and sorrowful music turning out to be fine art. With her debut EP, this is an effortless notion with a stunning result. She was influenced by the ‘Moon Pix’-era CAT POWER and her serene contemporaries such as Emma Ruth Rundle. A.A. WILLIAMS is coming out the gate as an exemplary songwriter with anthemic and passionate melodies; the swathe of which leaves the listener doused in sonic density. She crafts a profound sense of melancholy submerged in gothic influence. This year, the artist played at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. https://www.aawilliamsmusic.com / https://www.facebook.com/aawilliamsmusic
Music & Performance
Due to long lines and the security-check we entered Tonhalle when the support band A.A. WILLIAMS was already onstage. The sound was not to the bands benefit and the drums were overdosed, but people were standing in front of the stage instead of hanging at the bar, so one could come to the result, that the support did a good job. London-based A.A. WILLIAMS, who released her self-titled debut-LP in January, was the perfect support for THE SISTERS OF MERCY, ranging somewhere between Alternative and Folk Rock with a little Goth mood here and there. The vocals were sounding sometimes warm and sometimes reflective. In a dark but yet warm illuminated stage setting this was a good warm-up for what would follow.
Total: 7.5 / 10
The Sisters of Mercy
THE SISTERS OF MERCY were founded in autumn 1979 in Leeds and consisted of five members but the band broke apart soon. The band was re-founded in 1981 which is seen as the real start of THE SISTERS OF MERCY. Over the years members changed frequently and today only Andrew Eldritch is the last founding member. In the early 80s, lyrics were written by Andre Eldritch, who also programmed Doktor Avalanche and took care most of the producing stuff, while he shared the music-writing with Gary Marx. The band gained some underground success until 1983 and songs like ‘Alice’ and ‘Temple of Love’ gained the band a record deal with a major label. The band released the album ‘First And Last And Always’ in 1985 but co-founder Gary Marx left the band during the supporting tour. The band finished the tour as a trio and soon after split totally.
Eldritch recorded ’Floodland’ as THE SISTERHOOD concentrating on his own talents with a focus on keyboards instead of guitars. ’This Corrosion’ was released as the first single in 1987, followed by ‘Lucretia my Reflection’ in 1988. In 1990 Eldritch teamed up with Andreas Buhn, Tony James and Tim Bricheno and the album ‘Vision Thing’ was released in October and a world tour followed, but the US-part with PUBLIC ENEMY was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Problems with the record company followed and the musicians left the band during the following year to concentrate on other projects. There followed a few live gigs in various line-ups with Eldritch being the only consistent member of the band. From 2011, the 30th anniversary of the band, festival-gigs and tours infrequently took place and there are constant rumours that the band will release a new album. http://www.the-sisters-of-mercy.com
Music & Performance
After a break of app. 20 minutes that we used to fuel our bodies up with water to survive the hot air inside, the curtain was removed and the techs prepared everything for the show of THE SISTERS OF MERCY. The show started with ‘More’, hundreds of smartphones were raised to film the opener, but somehow the band seemed to be tensed. Since the whole thing was rather Goth at the beginning, it might have been difficult for them to figure out, how the vibe in the audience was. The faces of the audience showed that they didn’t know what to make of a reluctant and tensed band. The ice broke when The Doktor gave us the beat for ‘First and Last and Always’ and Ben Christo and Dylan Smith started roaming the stage and Andrew went front and became more visible for the audience. One of the highlights was ‘Show Me’. The crowed was nearly louder than the band during the chorus.
Time flew by while the band played a solid selection from the whole catalogue, with a slightly harder and more rocking live-sound than the album versions. ‘Something Fast’ was introduced by Andrew saying “We are JUDAS PRIEST”. Dylan was playing an acoustic guitar now on a blue-illuminated stage. As soon as the song started something that is nearly old-school these days happened: lighters were raised in the air. ‘Flood II’ was the last song on the regular setlist and the whole stage was illuminated in blue light and Dylan, be assured, I rarely saw someone posing so cool while playing acoustic guitar. Ben treated us with a really excellent guitar-solo while Andrew ignored the law and smoked his cigarette on stage. Something that was rather rare a previous shows was, that Andrew stood near his guitar players quite often during the performance and overall the whole concert in Munich proved, that the current line-up grew into a solid live-band now. It is not Andrew Eldrich and some musicians, it’s a real band with the goal to preserve the legacy of the band, while still being ready to adjust the sound to the modern times.
THE SISTERS OF MERCY left the stage under a big applause and the crowd immediately started demanding the encore. The band let the audience wait for some time before, so the choruses demanding more songs went silent, until THE SISTERS OF MERCY came back for the encore, which was a blast. ‘Lucretia’ saw people dancing but when ‘Vision Thing’ started, the moshpit in front of the stage was open and more and more people joined in while the whole venue was singing along or cheering. Andrew Eldritch was frequently making eye-contact with the fans in the front rows from behind his sunglasses, which made more than one person happy. The outro of ‘Vision Thing’ and the intro of ‘Temple Of Love’ gave Ben and Dylan the chance for some great posing and harder nearly Industrial vibes got the people moving and you could hear people shouting with delight. The middle of the song was dominated by Ben and Dylan standing together and shredding what the guitars were ready to provide.
THE SISTERS OF MERCY got a loud cheering and a big applause for this excellent performance. ’Temple’ saw a mass of people moshing, but everybody remained polite, the benefit of being older and wiser, maybe? Andrew Eldritch obviously enjoyed this sight and seemed to be relieved somehow, all the tension from the beginning of the show was gone. You saw happy and delighted faces everywhere around you and the band saw us of with ‘This Corrosion’, during the intro the band came front and the whole venue was cheering and whenever it was time for the chorus the Munich crowd joined in. THE SISTERS OF MERCY still rock and know how to make their fans happy and people expressed hope THE SISTERS OF MERCY will come back to Munich soon. You saw many happy faces, when the people figured out, the band was there to meet them after the show and was ready to take photos and sign items and even arms. A word concerning the venue at the end: It really annoyed me after the show was, that the security used a rope to make people, who hoped for a guitar-pick or a setlist go away from the stage, while the technicians were working and shoved the people to the entrance this way.
03. Crash and Burn
04. Dr Jeep - Detonation Boulevard
05. No Time to Cry
07. Show ME
10. Better Reptile
11. First And Last And Always
12. Instrumental (unknown)
13. Something Fast
14. I Was Wrong
15. Flood II
16. Lucretia my Reflection
17. Vision Thing
18. Temple Of Love
19. This Corrosion
Total: 8.5 / 10
All Pictures by Christian W.