This past Saturday, June 3rd, post-punk legends The Sisters Of Mercy played their first show in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection since Halloween of 2008. Their 80-minute, 21-song set included 9 brand-new songs (The band hasn’t officially released new music since 1993.) interspersed with classics from their three studio LPs: 1985’s First and Last and Always, 1987’s Floodland, and 1990’s Vision Thing. And, although The Sisters Of Mercy have been performing live with some regularity since their start (although this was their first US tour in a decade and a half), with various lineups backing up frontman and sole constant member Andrew Eldritch, this is the first time in recent history that it felt like a legitimate Rock N’ Roll “band.” In addition to Eldritch, their current lineup includes guitarist/bassist Ben Christo, who has been touring with the group since 2006; guitarist Dylan Smith, who entered the fold in 2019; and “Ravey” Dave Creffield, operator of Doktor Avalanche, the band’s famous drum machine.
While Andrew Eldritch was clearly the one leading the stampede of quirkily morbid rock anthems, Christo and Smith felt and appeared to be equally significant members of the equation, to both the 2,500 in attendance – a motley amalgam of black leather-clad goths, punks, metalheads, and industrial enthusiasts – and Eldritch himself. The band had a look and swagger that combined that of formidable arena rockers and those historical headliners of London’s Batcave, the world’s premiere goth club, throughout the early-mid ‘80s, and they were just as competent, in music and performance, as any artist fitting either of those designations. On top of that, not a single one of the two-and-a-half-thousand in attendance seemed to mind in the slightest that half of the set was comprised of unfamiliar songs. New tracks like “Don’t Drive on Ice” (which opened the evening) and “Eyes of Caligula” fit in seamlessly with songs like “Ribbons,” “More,” and “This Corrosion,” which, more than 30 years on, still regularly highlight goth/industrial dance parties the world over.