Image credit: Mendor
Between fandom and internet forums you might have expected people to do better. In a world where we have podcasts, Patreon and Kickstarter somebody should really have reanimated Andrew Eldritch and the Sisters of Mercy by now.
The good news is that “you don’t have to say you’re sorry to look on further down the line” because, amidst the debris of their slightly jaded web presence, there are signs of a slight resurgence, with the news that they are set to perform 5 UK dates this winter.
The Sisters have sustained their loyal following over the decades with constant touring, apparently relishing the fact that they don’t have to release albums to attract their audience.
It’s understandable that people might be labouring under the illusion that there are many More Important Things to worry about than whether or not SoM enter a recording studio again, including Eldritch himself, but I don’t want the world to end without a bleeding edge Sisters of Mercy soundtrack to accompany the apocalyptic possibility of a Trump presidency.
Flirting with journalists and dealing out Trumpbait quotes to tempt
stalkers fans with the possibility of new studio material earlier this year, Eldritch said:
“I can tell you one thing: If Donald Trump actually does become President, that will be reason enough for me to release another album. I don’t think I could keep quiet if that happened.”
Whatever the result, it’s absolutely vital that The Fandom ACT NOW to lure The Eldritch to the church on time, even if/when the world wakes up in November to an unconscious Hillary, who has fainted with the sheer enormity of it all. (Looks like it’s time for that new album, Mr. Eldritch – Ed.)
The Sisters have been through a few (re-)incarnations and weathered many storms, they’ve had imitators and they’ve influenced many who may not like to admit it till it’s fashionable again, but if the US is going to insist on electing deeply unfashionable people who are at best 10 years behind the curve, it’s high time we got over Andrew’s cheekbones and give him a chance to shine.
Part of the reason why a Sisters renaissance has yet to resonate on the web may be to do with Eldritch’s ambivalence to the platform. On the
godawful official Sisters of Mercy site which seems to have been thrown up some time around 1999 and promptly forgotten, he is quoted as saying:
“the internet is text for people who don’t read”.
The decision to use white text on a red background on the page containing this quote is doubtless his idea of a joke.
Self-described Intellectual Love God, the ever modest Mr. Eldritch is about as clever as rock stars get. He knows how to code in PERL, is fluent in Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese) French and German, studying at Oxford before moving to Leeds University. His songs are dense with imagery and references that go beyond goth/pop culture and the kind of self-absorbed adolescent navel gazing you hear elsewhere in the gothic genre. It’s unsurprising that Eldritch is as wary of the goth label as he is of record labels given that both seem designed to give him artistic cramp.
While a small portion of The Sisters studio back-catalogue has not aged well (particularly some of the earlier recordings) much of the music is driven by an energy that will surprise many who pre-judge their stuff as gloomy goth-rock for people who wear black and smoke menthol cigarettes. Jim Steinman’s musical hallmarks are evident in places on This Corrosion and Dominion/Mother Russia but he never totally eclipses the Sisters artistic shimmering Vision Thing the way he did with Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf.
Image credit: Moshka
“Still hard, still shiny.”
As a live act, older material has been rearranged with the magic of digital technology and solid effects which don’t mask Eldritch’s vocal flaws so much as embrace them. It’s a delicate balancing act in venues that don’t have good accoustics, rendering many of the ubiquitous bootlegs un-listenable and leading to criticism that otherwise great performances have been marred by muddy sound.
Hiding in luminescent colours, silhouetted outlines projecting against dry ice, the visual display has always been a part of The Sisters signature, conjuring the kind of imagery that has more in common with William Gibson’s cyberpunk aesthetic than anything remotely gothic. By remaining “hard and shiny”, and charting their own enigmatic course through the “cruel, shallow trench of the music industry” they may even be more relevant now than in the 80s/90s.
The Sisters Of Mercy 2016 UK tour
Nov 19: Norwich UEA
Nov 22: Birmingham O2 Institute
Nov 23: Bristol O2 Academy
Nov 25: Liverpool Olympia
Nov 26: Sheffield University Foundry