Got to spend some time this week catching up with old friends. Here’s the report.
The Sisters of Mercy
In addition to being a great band, the Sisters (est. 1980) were always a very successful brand. The music aligned with the image and the graphic design to create a total package that a lot of us found very satisfying.
Here in 2023, I can tell you that the brand remains strong. When I arrived at McMenamin’s Crystal Palace in Portland around 7 P.M., my brethren and sistren were lined up around the block, having happily paid [redacted] for a chance to get inside — where the $40 t-shirts were selling like hotcakes.
As for the music… well, let me begin by saying what I liked. Doktor Avalanche — the Sisters’ drum machine, now in its umpteenth iteration — was on top form. The two young guitarists were solid players and looked the part. Many great songs were played and at the end, as I looked around at the black-clad masses singing “Hey now, hey now now, sing this corrosion to me,” I knew that I was among my people — which is why we go to concerts, isn’t it?
But it is a sad and inescapable fact that Andrew Eldritch — the one and only true Sister — can no longer sing worth a damn. His magnificent, resonant bass-baritone has been reduced to a hoarse croak which at particularly bad moments becomes a strangulated yelp. This is not necessarily his fault, though possibly he could have taken better care of it. And certainly he put forth the effort, but maybe he could have hired backup singers? (Also a bass player. Putting the entire rhythm section in the hands of one lad with a laptop seemed a tad chintzy.)
Well… as a consumer I pretty much knew what I was getting into. I wasn’t demanding a refund afterwards, not do I regret having made the trip. But I think this was my last audience with Baron Von Eldritch.
Love and Rockets
This was more like it. After Bauhaus broke up again last year (possibly, this time, for good), the Other Three decided finally — finally! — to reform Love and Rockets. I love both bands but L&R is closer to my heart, as their heyday coincided with some of the best years of my life.
So of course as soon as tickets for a show at the Fox Theatre in Oakland went on sale, I was clicking furiously with credit card in hand. And there I was last night, love of my life by my side, at the foot of the stage as they launched into “I Feel Speed.”
For a minute Daniel Ash seemed to have difficulty locating the melody, and I got a little nervous. But pretty soon he pulled it together and the slow-burning opener turned into a simmering “No Big Deal.”
By a minute into the third song, “Kundalini Express,” my head was hovering several feel above my body, and it pretty much remained there for the rest of the night. There’s not much point getting into a whole recap, but for those who may be interested (including future selves), here’s the setlist:
- I Feel Speed
- No Big Deal
- Kundalini Express
- The Dog-End of a Day Gone By
- Judgement Day
- Haunted When the Minutes Drag
- An American Dream
- No New Tale to Tell
- So Alive
- Deep Deep Down
- My Dark Twin
- The Light
- Mirror People
- Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)
- Holiday on the Moon
- Love Me
- Ball of Confusion
- Sweet F.A.
And a Spotify playlist thereof:
Missing from that is “Deep Deep Down,” which is not on the platform; if desired, you’ll have to insert it manually:
Another rendezvous is scheduled for Los Angeles about a month hence. More then.