The Sisters of Mercy, Auckland NZ, 2022

The Sisters of Mercy

25th October 2022
Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand

Review by Bridget Herlihy with photography by Doug Peters.

It is a strong indicator that you have just witnessed an epic performance when the audience emerges from the venue at the end of the night grinning from ear to ear. Considered one of the prominent pioneers of the English goth scene of the 80s and early 90s, The Sisters of Mercy, renowned for their often dark and brooding sound, sent several hundred fans into the night at the end of the show on the very best of music-induced highs.

Often labelled (or pigeonholed) as a goth band, The Sisters of Mercy have tried to shrug off the label for a number of years instead considering themselves first and foremost a rock band. Labels and genre specifications aside, the British four-piece drew an eclectic and enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Powerstation on Tuesday evening to witness something of a remarkable performance. Formed in Leeds in 1980, and now into their fifth decade with a large and loyal fan base, the band has not released a new album since 1990’s ‘Vision Thing’. Yet this drought of recorded material should not be mistaken for the enigmatic band resting on their laurels, or them becoming a ‘legacy act’ (rather it was front man and founder giving the proverbial middle finger to their record company). Instead, they choose to incorporate new music into their live shows, making them a must see/hear event for fans both old and new. Tuesday’s show, the first of their Australasian tour, was evidence that not one iota of the Sister’s potency has dissipated over the last forty-two years.

After a formidable set of blues infused rock from Brisbane-based two-piece Elko Fields that suitably warmed the crowd up, the sunglass-clad Sisters made a fitting entrance to an orchestral soundtrack under the cloak of semi-darkness and smoke. Opening track ‘Don’t Drive’, one of the band’s new tracks, got the set off to a very strong start. While audiences are not always overly receptive to hearing new material live and often take it as an opportunity to refill their drinks, the Sisters held the crowd captivated, not only through the music but also their stage presence. With his trademark deep vocals Eldritch still cuts a menacing figure, slowing sauntering and gesturing from one side of the stage to the other, while guitarists Ben Christo and Dylan Smith played with passion and charisma and appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves (especially Smith, who spent a large portion of the evening towering over those in the front row with a big grin). Ravey Davey lurked in the shadows at the back of the stage, helming the infamous Doktor Avalanche.

For almost two hours they kept the crowd spellbound with a perfect balance of old and new materials, and while Eldritch admitted to being jetlagged, his vocals were on-point. It almost goes without saying that classic tracks such as ‘Marian’ and ‘Doctor Jeep’ received thunderous applause, yet it was nothing compared to the demands of the crowd for an encore as Eldritch announced he was “off for a cigarette”. After several minutes of hundreds of eager fans stomping on the floor and chanting ‘one more song’, the audience was duly rewarded with not one but three classic Sisters tracks; a stunning rendition of ‘Lucretia My Reflection’, followed by ‘Temple of Love’ and ‘This Corrosion. If time hadn’t been a factor, there is no doubt that the audience would have happily stayed for another two hours to soak up the brilliance of this band.

To say that they excel playing live would be an understatement. The Sisters of Mercy are as potent and enthralling now as they were in the 1980s, and an absolute joy to experience in the flesh.

Were you there at the Powerstation for this magnificent post-punk goth rock gig? Or have you seen The Sisters of Mercy perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Don’t Drive On Ice
  2. Crash and Burn
  3. Ribbons
  4. I Will Call You
  5. First and Last and Always
  6. But Genevieve
  7. Alice
  8. Giving Ground [The Sisterhood cover]
  9. Marian
  10. More
  11. Show Me
  12. Doctor Jeep / Detonation Boulevard
  13. Eyes of Caligula
  14. Something Fast
  15. I Was Wrong
  16. Here
  17. Instrumental 86
  18. There’s A Door
  19. Summer
  20. When I’m On Fire
  21. Lucretia My Reflection [encore]
  22. Temple of Love [encore]
  23. This Corrosion [encore]

Note: Ambient Light was provided passes to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product using an affiliate link, Ambient Light will automatically receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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