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|SONGLIST (not confirmed)||
Tour: Tour Thing|
City: New York, NY, USA
Venue: Ritz, New York, NY, USA
Event: (not available)
Reviews: (not available)
Onstage: Gloom and Smoke; Off: Black Clothes and Angst - The New York Times. April 1, 1991 by Jon Pareles|
Smoke began pouring onto the stage of the Ritz half an hour before the Sisters of Mercy appeared on Saturday night. A good haze is essential to bands like the Sisters of Mercy. Fans call them gothic, a category that requires gloomy, cryptic lyrics, an aura of mystery and a pounding dance beat; the music draws audiences that wear black clothes and heavy makeup, signifying sensitivity, angst and an acute fashion sense.
By the time the Sisters of Mercy turned on their drum machine and started to play, the members' faces were obscured while the smoke caught dozens of spotlight beams in geometric splendor. Only Andrew Eldritch, the Sisters' singer and songwriter, was fully lighted during the set, between bouts of flickering strobe lights and dramatic silhouetting; then again, he kept his sunglasses on. But fans were thrilled to see him at all, since it was the English band's first tour since 1985. For the occasion, he wore white and stalked the stage as if he'd been studying Jim Morrison's poses in "The Doors."
The band's various lineups have been united by its drum machine and by Mr. Eldritch's bass-baritone vocals. In his lowest register, he is a stoic voice of doom; at emotional moments, his voice rises with a pained vibrato or on occasion a joyless yodel. His lyrics move between romantic suffering and images of apocalypse and anomie, seeing the world as "four billion empty faces." His writing has made some progress in the Sisters' 11-year-old career; while the sentiments haven't changed much, recent songs are less likely to string together cliches like those in "Marian": "in the sea of faces, in the sea of doubt, in this cruel place, your voice above the maelstrom."
In the title song of the Sisters' new album, "Vision Thing" (Elektra), Mr. Eldritch cynically spits out the phrases of George Bush; introducing the song at the Ritz, he snarled, "I used to think, once upon a time, that you didn't all vote for him. Now I think I was wrong."
The Sisters of Mercy have toyed with keyboards and choirs, but the current band is lean and guitar-centered, with its riffs punctuated by guitar solos or feedback; Suzanne Josefowicz's keyboards are less prominent than her descant backing vocals, an octave or two above Mr. Eldritch. The stripped-down arrangements emphasize both the bleak tone and the momentum of the songs, but a the risk of sounding repetitious. For those who don't already think Mr. Eldritch is a deep moral philosopher, the Sisters of Mercy work best as an ominous dance band.
Danielle Dax sold herself short as the concert's opener. On her albums, she is shrewd and eccentric; her songs and arrangements can be wide-eyed or oblique and they use simple rock patterns with a broad streak of parody. On stage, the parody was lost while the simplicity remained. Her band stomped through three-chord blues-rock or two-chord funk vamps while Ms. Dax, dressed as a standard pop sexpot in black hotpants and a blonde bouffant, undulated her hips and let the band drown out most of her singing. Perhaps pretending to be a second-string Siouxsie and the Banshees is a commercial gambit, but any new fan Ms. Dax garners will get more than they bargained for.