The people-watching is top-notch inside the Forum this evening as goth-rock outfits are dusted off and the uninitiated could be forgiven for thinking Halloween arrived a day early this year. In addition, there sure is a whole lotta guyliner in the house, which we applaud.
The Sisters of Mercy return to our shores to perform a handful of headline shows after a seven-year absence, and the vibe in the front stalls is sky-high as fans make new friends and share stories. It’s pretty packed down here, and a neighbouring dude in the crowd points out that it’s essential to secure a close-range posi in order to clock The Sisters of Mercy through their trademark dense, smoky stage.
As if on cue, the performance space fills with endless puffs of smoke, to the point where we search all pockets in our bags hoping to uncover some eye drops. A stagehand flashes a torch signal to the sound desk and then, boom! The atmospheric build-up of More’s ominous intro immediately revs up the crowd. “Some people get by…” – we collectively breathe a sigh of relief; Andrew Eldritch’s deep baritone certainly holds up! Once the band hit the stage, we note that they all got the memo to wear reflector sunnies so that we can’t tell who they’re eyeballing.
Ah, the rock posturing! Guitarists Dylan Smith (he’s Australian born and does us proud) and Ben Christo demonstrate every single complementary angle and shape that’s possible for a pair of guitarists. When not stalking the front of the stage, Eldritch tends to stand motionless in centre-stage darkness, hands clasped together behind him – menacing and leering (even though we can’t see his eyes, we can feel the intensity). Bright spotlights of assorted primary colours dissect the smoke and the lighting design is almost as important to this show as the band itself: Eldritch knows exactly where to position his bone-dome or stylised hand gestures (counting down from four to one at one point, for instance) within a single spotlight for maximum impact, illuminating specific body parts so that they appear to be dismembered and floating in space.
The Sisters of Mercy sound is layered sludge, as dense as the fog on stage. No Time to Cry shimmers with jangly guitar parts as punters bounce along, supplying the percussive “no-no-no-no-no-no-no” parts, and the thrilling Dominion/Mother Russia is a clear crowd favourite.
They sound like no other band on the planet, and Sisters of Mercy close proceedings with a stacked encore that contains the relentless, hypnotic Vision Thing and that beguiling classic: Temple of Love. If we all chant, “We. Want. More!” maybe The Sisters of Mercy will return for another encore and play this evening’s opening song again!? No? Damnit.