Smoke and Mirrors 2003
"I've slept with all the girls in Leeds 13 unless your name's Carol", - Andrew Eldritch.
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Written by Dave Whelan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours webzine
Locked And Loaded At The Blank Canvas
The Angel pub kicked things off nicely in the centre of town. Cool boozer, rammed with Sisters fans and lots of 'ironic snakebite'. Ace.
First things first, how cool is the Blank Canvas? If anywhere, ever, looked purpose built for a Sisters show, it was here, under the arches of Leeds train station. Christ, and I used to think Manchester Apollo was the place to play. Once I'd recovered from my interior design haze, it occurred to me that the place was actually tiny, with probably a maximum 1000 capacity. Certainly no more than that, possibly much less. Hold on a minute, I thought, small venues usually mean poor gigs for the Sisters. Shit, more snakebite (well, you've got to, haven't you), quick.
Can't remember a thing about the support - too busy staring into the eyes of the stunning girl behind the bar, I suppose (Gary Oldman indeed!). However, we were in the pit by the time the band hit the stage, and boy was it rocking. Two things immediately became apparent amidst the carnage. The sound was excellent - everything at the right level, and loud enough for a change, and secondly, Smokey The Bear was back in town. You couldn't see a thing, just the walls of red, green, purple, blue and yellow. Now I like my lightshows, the Sisters' more than anyone, but given the size and nature of this gig, the 'colours' approach worked perfectly. The policy seemed to be - there isn't enough room for much stuff, let's keep it simple - and it was ace.
By Crash and Burn I was on some geezers shoulders, (cheers geezer, if you read this) and you still couldn't make Eldritch out in the fog, exactly as I imagine 84/85 gigs to have looked. Given his comments on the subject in the BBC interview, I assumed he must have been a happy bunny to be back on home soil.
The setlist was standard fare, but the proximity and the acoustics made for a most boisterous evening. Besides which, when your 'standard fare' is THAT good, and clearly wipes the floor with everything else (more or less), who cares? When You Don't See Me was, as in the Dam, a mighty highlight, Susanne remains an incredible song, and should probably be THE single when they get round to it (which they will folks, fear not). It'll become the 'albatross' that This Corrosion did, mark my words. Slept was also very good, a lot rockier than the dodgy mp3 I'd heard, which basically sounded 'goth' (yikes). Pearson ran through his repertoire of rock-god poses (even more obvious and amusing than Andy's), and bruise was laid upon bruise in the pit.
I Was Wrong live seems to have divided opinion (don't the Sisters ALWAYS divide opinion, bless them). Needless to say I thought it was incredible, spine-tinglingly so, and they haven't managed that since kicking off the NEC 1992 show with Comfortably Numb.
Not sure about the bobbins thrown into Vision Thing though. Two points. One, of course it's wrong, everyone knows that, and thus two, I didn't think the Sisters were a 'sloganeering' kind of band, so why bother. As previously stated by the man, they ain't New Model Army (thank fuck), and preaching to the converted is futile and unnecessary.
Whatever. It didn't detract from another stonking show. I couldn't ultimately be arsed with the Sunday gig, I was far too knackered, and the prospect of lurking half-dead at the back just to hear Marian didn't appeal. Two shows per tour is fine by me.
By the way, I discovered why the setlists don't change much. After the show, upon meeting up with the vastly dispersed gang, I was presented with a printed setlist, apparently liberated from Adam's position sometime around Summer. The lad who swiped it was the bloke in the Southampton shirt; hardly conspicuous, and given last weeks footy result, I'm surprised the robbed guitarist didn't boot him!
Cheers to all the folks I met (at last), including Mike (sorry mate, just couldn't manage Sunday) and Simone (sp?); Alexander - there was ANOTHER Ajax fan in there, who accosted me at about 2AM, fine but very mad bloke he was; and various groovy people off Heartland. To those who did the whole tour (or vast majority of shows) - respect.
Sit down and wait for the bootlegs, now.
First of all, Saturday night was fantastic. Helped by beers on the train I was already doing a very passable RobF impression by the time I got to the Angel beforehand.
The venue is quite unusual and is underneath the railway, real Victorian arches. I thought it was pretty good venue for the Sisters, although not very viewer friendly if you're at the back and the smoke didn't clear, as some reviews have rightly pointed out. No idea what the capacity of the place is, but it's definitely not on the scale of some of the European venues on this tour. Didn't buy any drinks there, so saved myself a small fortune.
Saturday was packed and really lively down the front. Forced a friend down the front who'd never been before and he loved it. The setlist held no surprises, although I'm not sure about Temple of Love at the beginning though; I'm not too keen on the new version either. When You Don't See Me just seemed to get better throughout the tour and it was good to see it resurrected. I'm not a fan of Adam's reworking of the First And Last And Always riff; it's not hard to play and its Celtic-esque sound is so fantastic, why try to improve on it? Lucretia though is an absolute stormer these days.
Bought the boy Starling's re-release CD (and I've got the original anyway, but that's alcohol for you). Didn't stay for the disco afterwards, instead went to my mate's indie night over the road.
Sunday was a lot quieter and emptier and I thought this was the better of the two nights - in came Marian, Valentine, Dr Jeep and Come Together. Not as much smoke as the night before. A good way to end the weekend and tour.
Thanks, as always, to Chris, Simon, Pete, Marge and Wim for organisation and lifts.
Written by Don Robertson (Vonbek@btinternet.com) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours webzine
I have to say the first night in Leeds was something of a disappointment. The setlist is the same as Glasgow and as the majority of the tour, and I didn't like the venue. It is a huge brick vault under the railway station supported by giant pillars. Four of them form the borders of a square in front of the stage with the mixing desk behind. Naturally this space it at a premium as it affords the only good view of the stage and thus creates something of a corral that produces an ungodly crush in the audience.
It's not as though it was a bad performance, parts of it are quite enjoyable when I don't have some meathead in the audience trying to push my spine out through my ribcage. I don't know why but for some reason the audience is particularly violent that evening.
Perhaps I'm just tired, this is gig number three in as many nights - the night before saw an excellent performance by The Sisters Of Murphy at the Royal Park Cellars. Perhaps the setlist is just too similar to the Friday night in London and Glasgow two nights before. But I leave feeling slightly disappointed and hoping vehemently that they change the setlist the following evening.
On the plus side I did get a chance to speak to Eldritch briefly before the gig. He was standing to the left of the entrance dressed again in the white "shut the fuck up" hooded top and orange reflective jacket - some sort of first aid type thing. I guess he thought he was inconspicuous with the hood up and the shades off! I walked up to him and said, "You're Andrew Eldritch and I claim my five pounds." He replied "You can claim anything you like." After that the conversation struggled - to my horror I realised I didn't have anything to say to him, well nothing that didn't sound trite I wisely avoided mentioning singles, the album or the DVD. He pointed to the red cross on his sleeve and joked that, "I'm on duty, healing the sick," and when I asked if he'd enjoyed the tour the taciturn reply was "Bits of it." I guess I'm going to have to work on my interview technique But at least I didn't appear to piss him off, which must count for something!
I thought Leeds was fun indeed, on Saturday, unless you were 10' high it was a bit difficult to discern anything going on on stage. Mind you, that leaves plenty of time for chuckling at the motley crew that one might describe as the assembled audience.
I realised at one point, quite disturbingly, that if I told someone out of context that I had spent the evening in a sweaty heaving throng with about 30 men I know, most people would think I was some sort of...
The "alternative" Dj night after proved to be slightly more fun than I initially anticipated - possibly because they served rather large measures of white wine at 2.50 a pop.
> Marian was great, a bit faster than the LP track and
I doubt you have to be German to know the lyrics to the German verse - after all I'm sure a significant proportion of the people who studied German at school did so mainly to learn the third verse of Marian. ;p
Anyway, today is the beginning of the rest of my life. Arse.
> on Saturday, unless you were 10' high it was a bit
Even standing above the crowd, you didn't see the stage. Paul smoked that place like we were fish. Good he didn't the next day!
Hmm this tour was fun from start till end (apart from the week I missed). So thanks to everyone, especially Thomas for giving me that colorful eye yesterday ;-)) Extra thanks to Spencer for even doing Romeo Down when I didn't want too!
Written by Patrick Galvin for Heartland forums
Even though I live close to and work in Leeds this venue was a new one to me. On entering I liked it a lot, it certainly had the look for a Sisters gig to me. Pity the sound turned out to be a bit ropey. That said i was plonked with a few peeps at the back near the door. From there it wasn't too good and I remember Simon Cardwell saying he'd not been too impressed on his travels round the venue during the set. Bought a "People's Republic of West Yorkshire" T-shirt and chastised that Lancastrian Reverberator for even thinking about it!
Oceansize. Not too impressed. Load of racket with some Radiohead overtones for me. That said I'd like to hear some of their stuff recorded to get a proper idea.
The Sisters for me were probably a notch above what I was expecting. I'm not a huge fan of the Sisters live, but at least from the off there seemed to be intermittent bouts of angst which I always think is lacking. Again, soundwise with so much in the way of hard surfaces about I don't know what their foldback was like on stage so I expect not great and therefore not adding a pleasant atmosphere for them.
Not keen on Temple of Love to start - wrong song in the wrong place for me, and how they can start it from the break I'll never know. Crash and Burn, Ribbons were solid. The re-worked When You Don't See Me actually worked for me. Then the set seemed to meander from moderate highs to moderate lows: First and Last and Always was awful, never get on with them trashing the riff. Lucretia, My Reflection with the understated bassline? NO. We are the Same, Suzanne and Romeo Down plodded dull as ever, Summer was indeed as glorious as ever.
The new version of I Was Wrong - "Jesus Wept". Flood II was great on the night. Slept sounds interesting though as we will never hear a recorded version hard to tell. Anaconda rocked a fat one as did Giving Ground, Dominion and Alice. Finally Vision Thing was anthemic, powerful and a reminder of what are now, by comparison bygone days!!
Being picky aside though still looking forward to tonight and hopefully Marian, Valentine etc.
I find few things as frustrating as Sisters gigs.
Standard setlist, no surprises. No Marian (tomorrow probably). Audience behaved themselves during I Was Wrong.
I don't think Eldritch said anything between songs, except for a classic comment before Slept - "I've slept with all the girls in Leeds 13 unless your name's Carol".
Also before the gig someone was handing out flyers saying "Pretty Black Dots. Gary Marx. Debut album out now". That was a surprise as last I heard he was teaching music at some music college somewhere.
Written by "Black Shuk" for Heartland forums
I know some of you probably think I'm just some misery guts who'll whinge about anything, but the Sisters gig in Leeds (Sat 26th) really p**sed me off.
Didn't like the venue. Awful sound (Von was barely coherent), DESPICABLE drink prices (my mate bought a double vodka and red bull - £6.50. nice!), and those 2 huge pillars made everyone stand in the centre of the already very, very overcrowded venue.
For 20 quid I expect to be able to see Andrew Eldritch. The entire gig was like one of those magic eye pictures- if you stared long enough at the smoke you could, for half a second, glimpse his silhouette.
Or was it James Ray? or Patricia Morrison? or Ghandi? I couldn't tell.
I could have saved myself the £20 by instead sticking Floodland on my walkman and then burning down my house.
And where was the witty stage banter? I would have thought a homecoming gig would have warranted more than "good evening".
This reeked of a band simply going through the motions- they simply came on, played their greatest hits then f**ked off.
Oh, and as for adding the lines "This war is wrong" to Vision Thing, thanks Von for ruining a song I'd been dying to hear all night. I came to hear the sisters songs, not be preached at.
The crowd were all really friendly, though - at one point a HUGE goth stood on my toes and apologised profusely, as did a fella who poked me with his cigarette.
Really wanted a People's R.O.W.Y. t-shirt, too, but I'm not being fleeced (£17 was outrageous).
And, and, AND when I was dancing after, some nob kept hitting me as he flailed his arms about like a lunatic. I hold Von personally responsible.
This gig has really made me evaluate how I feel about the Sisters.
The sad thing is, I know I won't be able to resist seeing their next tour, and their next - but I really do think Von should give his fans, who've stuck with him these long years, more respect.
Written by Dave "Zuma" for Heartland forums
Had a few really bad experiences of Sisters gigs and came out bitterly, conclusion, however Leeds to me was the best ever for the vibe, the music. Sound was the best so far, not perfect but good. And the crowd were fantastic.
There was a lot of smoke, I just found it amusing rather than a problem. Watched a few people leaving early as they, I presume, did not get the eighties revival act they were expecting.
Thought Vision Thing with the extras was great. Maybe time to stop putting people a pedestal as they obviously do want to stand on it.
Saturday's gig was fantastic. Sound was ace, atmosphere very good. AE sang well and seemed to really enjoy the vibe. Blank Canvas was a better venue than I had expected, the arches framed things nicely. Having now heard most of the new songs a few times they are well worth releasing [HINT HINT].
The new rrrrrrock sound works well and the melodies and choruses are still strong enough to rise above most guitar music out at the moment. There were large numbers of people singing along to the new stuff which surely tells it's own story?
The few songs where Adam picked up a bass on benefited from the real bass. I guess they have the Doktor play bass on most songs for consistency and having one less instrument that could break down or whatever.
Is it just me or were the Leeds gigs bloody good?
Thought the venue was going to be the usual load of SH** - but the sound was good and the lighting seemed better than the norm. So can Von find a deeper danker hole to play in? ;/
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