Sisters of Mercy played Big Night Live – 5/31

Andrew Eldritch and the Sisters made a long-awaited return to Boston last week at Big Night Live.

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I already touched on this in last month’s preview for this particular show, but it bears repeating: it’s hard to imagine a bigger mismatch of band to venue than goth icons Sisters of Mercy at Boston’s newest bottle service club/occasional concert hall. I won’t belabor the point, but much like another gathering of scene veterans there a couple months back, last Wednesday’s show was not a showcase for the room’s versatility.

However it came to be though, throngs of the black-clad did their best to bring some Batcave vibes to Causeway Street, packing out the venue for the first North American Sisters of Mercy tour in fifteen years. Mastermind Andrew Eldritch brought the current touring lineup overseas for a Spring run of shows motivated by an appearance at Vegas’ Sick New World nu-metal extravaganza – probably the only stranger place than Big Night Live to see them this year – and the full-force turnout indicated their long absence had been felt.

Eldritch is the band’s only (human) constant, as the case has been since the mid-’80s. Joining him nowadays are guitarists Ben Christo and Dylan Smith, plus one Ravey Davey, who operates the current Macbook iteration of the group’s drum machine Doktor Avalanche. The foursome sported a fitting look on stage, clad in sunglasses and cast in dramatic silhouettes through banks of fog. The enigmatic Eldritch paced the dark and held poses between verses, delivered with a gruffer but still recognizable timbre. I’ve heard complaints from other dates (and attendees of this one) of the overall mix coming across tinny or thin, but to my ears it wasn’t unfaithful to the band’s gothic rock palette.

Setlist-wise, as they’ve been doing for some years now, the Sisters offered a generous helping of new songs amid classics like “Alice” and “Dominion.” The band hasn’t released an album since 1990’s Vision Thing, nor do they seem poised to do so anytime soon, but Eldritch hasn’t stopped writing in the meantime. Fresh songs in the band’s harder-rocking, industrial-tinged vein comprised about half the set, and didn’t sound out of place amid the canon. Stacking that many unrecorded tunes into a show is a bold move for a long-running group, but Eldritch is a bold guy.

The night’s twenty total songs seemed to fly by in what was perhaps the show’s biggest setback: a workmanlike pacing and general lack of dynamism that, at times, felt like an ushering of the night to a premature conclusion. We all want to get home before dawn, but a show-closing rendition of “This Corrosion” that stripped back its nine-minute album version bombast to a radio-friendly 7″ runtime couldn’t help but feel a tad anticlimactic.

Scroll for some moody photos from the set below.