Smoke and Mirrors 2003
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Thanks to Michael Parker.
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Written by Don Robertson (Vonbek@btinternet.com) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours webzine
Before the show in the pub I must confess to having serious misgivings about the gig. The Saturday night was decidedly average and I wonder why I've bothered to travel all the way to Leeds. Fortunately, my faith is about to be restored…
The gig opens with Vision Thing followed by Crash And Burn and Ribbons. Then we get Come Together, which is a welcome change from When You Don't See Me. War On Drugs also makes a come back - I just love the way that song builds to a manic crescendo! The Doctor Jeep/Detonation Boulevard medley is also given an airing. I must admit I am once again less than impressed by this more Industrial version but it is nice to hear something different. Alice is absolutely storming, as is the On The Wire/Teachers/On The Wire medley. On top of that we are treated to Valentine during the first encore.
This is the best Sisters' gig I've seen for a while and easily the best of the four dates I've seen on the current tour. The atmosphere is much improved on from last night and the crowd is far more relaxed with none of crushing and shoving that marred the Saturday night.
However, I have to wonder just how much longer they can continue. As long as Adam Pearson refuses to allow his music to be distributed for free on the net, or if the DVD fails to appear, the law of diminishing returns implies the Sisters will play increasingly smaller and far from sold out venues. I must admit that I doubt I will bother to do multiple dates the next time they tour or travel to Europe for a festival date. At this rate they will be lucky to limp on to a twenty-fifth anniversary, which IMO would be a great pity.
I've got to say in all honesty that I thought Sunday was a disgrace.
I've seen the Sisters dozens of times over the last twenty years and this was literally the pits, below par - some of the 'new arrangements' were a bit confused/ing and I still find it difficult to believe that the wall of sludge that preceded Detonation Boulevard was actually Doctor Jeep.
Eldritch's voice was so low in the mix as to be unintelligible much of the time - I even prodded the guy on the mixing desk and asked him: his response was that was the correct level and shrugged. Looking at the desk I was petty sure that it was running on presets that automatically adjust based on the acoustics so I guess they actually wanted to bury the vocals presumably because he's got no voice left or has forgotten the words. The backing vocals - noticeably on Anaconda - came through very high and clear at guitar level. Certainly the rest of the mix was pretty good, although the good Doktor sounded a little tinny on the snare samples and I concur that the few songs with a live bass had noticeable more depth to them.
So, 39 quid for an amusing t-shirt (Republic) does not represent good value. Next time I think I'll save myself the time and money and stick 'Wake' on the telly again There's no way on gods good earth I'd pay for a live DVD if the performance was as poor as Sundays.
Smoke and Mirrors indeed.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sunday's gig, thought it was better than a lot of Sisters gigs I had been to. I guess each are entitled to their views.
Both Leeds shows were great, especially as I had not seen this lineup before. For those of you on-list who have not had the pleasure, I'll just point out that Pearson and Sheehan are vintage Sisters: the look, the clichéd rock-star poses done to perfection, the crunchy sound, even the outfits. Sort of Stooges Redux, an element of humour that was lost (in my opinion) during the Vision Thing era lineup (James' hat, Bruhn's vogueing were too serious, or at least self-consciously "funny"). Great lineup, great sound.
Marian was great, a bit faster than the LP track and previous live incarnations. It also serves as a helpful way to identify pockets of Germans in the audience, as they waste no effort in providing top-notch accompaniment to the German verse.
Lucretia is a great version, with a nice arrangement for the opening that is much thinner than the LP track: it was one moment when the vocals were loud enough. (Why are the vocals so low? I know, they're better in the back...)
It didn't help that there was a drunken loser singing the (wrong) words to every song in my ear for the last 5 songs or so. Am I an asshole for NOT wanting to hear him sing? I mean, I know he paid 20 pounds like me, and he just wants to have fun, but when I put him in front of me and sang "waiting in another ward / and waiting for my vaseline" in HIS ear, he wasn't too thrilled either. I'm all for singing, but with the right words. The Germans have it right: sing when you know the verse.
Sunday was as much fun for meeting people afterwards as for the show itself. Let's hope we get a US tour in the fall.
These were the only two I did this time, too old for any more.
Thought Saturday was top. Great atmosphere, good sound, good crowd. Reminded why I go to see them.
Thought Sunday was a bit flat in comparison. Band were good again, although it dragged in the middle, but there just wasn't enough people there to make it a great one. If you can walk calmly down the front just before they start then there's a serious lack of crowd. You couldn't give tickets away, and believe me I tried to! Still had a good time, but it was just another gig.
Mind you, the Murphy's gig on Friday was a bit quiet but that was more fun. How often do you hear Driven Like the Snow, Good Things, Black Planet and Nine While Nine in one set?! :-)
Written by Patrick Galvin for Heartland forums
This was more like it - for me anyhow!
As ever, the meet-up was great, made a new friend who is going to favourably review the Smurphs gig he never went to - can you beat that?!
There were a lot less people at the venue than last night, but this was a lot better for hanging at the back of the front stage chaos and have a good listen and dance.
Started with Vision Thing (stormer), and carried on from there. Marian was a godsend and sounded great pumped up with a strong synth bass thing going on - really worked. Dr Jeep, not too sure, he seems hell bent on demoting signature guitar parts down into the mix. Is this just me because I play guitar in the tribute?
Come Together was nice and bouncy, the Floods seemed better than last night, Anaconda was strong. Slept is a grower for sure and after all this Valentine. Sounded awesome indeed and just shows how the older and more minimalist material can sound when give the 90s treatment. Long may that continue (yeah right!).
As for Adam and Chris, they've inspired a "Snub Smurph". It is likely to be quite a frenetic guitar waddle, the gauntlet is laid down.
Really enjoyed the gig. First for me for a Sisters gig so delighted indeed.
The acoustics of the place weren't too good, on the Saturday I arrived during the support act and all I could hear was a barrage of noise with no discernible music at all.
The second night the sound was better, and also a better setlist. A lot less people there the second night, and slightly less smoke meaning I could actually see the stage. A good gig, although I thought Dr Jeep was a horrible horrible version, and the bassline in Lucretia was too understated.
I thought the Sunday night at Leeds was a pretty cool experience. The venue was fantastic, a dank Victorian railway arch which could only be reached via a Dickensian walk past an underground river. how nice of the Sisters to create a pea-souper to complete the general ambience!
Setlist was good, Marian being the high point (a fantastic metal version), but it was also good to hear war on drugs & come together again.
Was interested to read that the crowd was smaller than Saturday's. I always worry that one day a Sisters gig will consist only of me and a dozen others!
The highlight of the trip north was that I managed to get Andrew to autograph my ticket. I saw him hanging around the side of the stage as Oceansize were preparing to come on. I borrowed a pen from the lovely woman on the Oceansize merchandise stall (thanks!) and asked for a signature. Silently he took the pen and ticket and after I thanked him he said to me 'you're very welcome'.
I think it will be a couple of weeks before I recover from the excitement!
Saturday at Leeds was damned good, but TOO MUCH SMOKE! From about row 5, I didn't see anyone on stage until Susanne 8 songs in.
Sunday night got better as it went on. Marian wasn't as good as London, but the encores rounded things off in style.
8 gigs, 1157 miles, many, many bruises, many, many hangovers, 1 militant sex machine hoody.
Damn fine tour.
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