BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

A very odd show ...

Well ... the concert last night was interesting. I was surprised that, given the time constraints, they had a warm-up band, The Warlocks. The place (The Metro) was packed, and the show was officially sold out (I guess they moved it over from The Congress because they hadn't sold out that). Doors opened at 6:30pm for a 7:30 showtime, and I got there about 7:15 (I would have been there earlier, but I initially opted to wait for the #22 Clark bus, but after 20 minutes of waiting I gave up and took the El, which I probably should have done in the first place). If I'd gotten there earlier, I would have been happier later in the concert, as I would have been able to get a place on the balcony rail (i.e., be able to lean on something), but as it was I was just back from some fairly short people, so I could see OK.

About 7:40pm The Warlocks came on. They weren't bad, sort of sounding like My Bloody Valentine fronted by Julian Cope, with two drummers ... however, four of the six (?) songs they did were nearly identical, each having a basic guitar track which occurred to me seemed to be a riff from the one-note keyboard line of the Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog (or at least said keyboard line as played by David Bowie on Iggy's late 70's tours). To hear what I'm talking about, check out the Amazon clip from "Come Save Us", the first cut on their latest album, Surgery. That was the basic structure of most of their songs ... it got to the point where I was thinking "hmm ... is this an art band that's doing endless variations of one song intentionally?". Again, however, they weren't bad just somewhat unvarying.

So, after a while for the roadies to come and break down The Warlocks' gear, The Sisters of Mercy came on. Now, I have to confess that, despite my long-time enthusiasm for their music, I never had much of a sense about the band beyond the obvious presence of Andrew Eldritch. I was not aware, for instance, that they don't use a live drummer (so I guess there was room in the truck for The Warlocks to have two ... heh!) ... crediting the drum (and, it would appear, keyboard) bits to a "Doktor Avalanche" and his attendant "Nurse" (drum machine and programming tech?). I was also unaware of what a revolving door the rest of the band is (see here), and it appears that they had pretty much all-new bass/guitar players for this tour.

I had heard that Andrew was sick of all things Goth, and was re-inventing the band, including transforming his own look from this to this. That (along with the personnel changes) could go a long way towards explaining why, for most of the show, it was nearly impossible to recognize any of the songs ... well, Dominion, Ribbons and Doctor Jeep overcame this, but for most of the main part of the show, it was like watching a very different band do some sort of a "tribute set" to The Sisters of Mercy (think of The String Quartet Tribute to Black Sabbath or Unto Ashes' take on Don't Fear The Reaper or even a Caribbean steel drum band doing Beatles' tunes)! Like The Warlocks' set ... it wasn't bad, it just wasn't the band I knew and loved from their previous albums.

Another notable thing about the show was that they had the fog machines cranking and most of the time you couldn't see anything ... just shadowy figures moving through the lighting effects. The current lead guitarist, Ben Christo, did from time to time move up into a spotlit area, but it was almost impossible to see the bass player (Chris Catalyst) the whole show, and Eldritch was in movement from deep in fog to semi-deep in fog for most of the night.

On their web site, Eldritch notes that they do tend to play about 1/2 new (unreleased) stuff in their set when out touring, so my not being able to recognize most of the songs no doubt is due to that ... but the band at least gave the audience the trip down memory lane we were looking for in the encores ... as I recall it (which may be off, but, hey) they did Something Fast, Lucretia, More, and Vision Thing on the first encore and ended the second encore with Temple of Love ... they didn't play classics like Black Planet or This Corrosion (and I heard bitching about that on the way out), which is too bad. Again, few if any of these versions were particularly close to the album cuts, but at least they were recognizable!

Given the previously noted "geezer timing" of these Yuppieville mid-week shows, we were out of there by about 10:15pm, which put me home (including stopping off to pick up some Egg Foo Yung at a local Chinese place) by 11pm ... which would have been a shocker to my 20-something self who rarely headed out until after 10!

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