herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Gothic greatness and that charming chap from east anglia

Contrary to the popular image of Goth music being the preserve of brooding depressives I've always found the genre rather amusing, with even its practitioners being well aware that what they're doing is pretty daft.

Back in the day it was possible to sit in a hotel bedroom yapping and laughing away with Wayne Hussey of The Mission while he and bassist Craig Adams demolished several bottles of Blue Nun and told tales out of school about their days in The Sisters of Mercy.

Equally, the Sisters' frontman Andrew Eldritch (inset) may have developed a persona as the Dark Lord of the Underworld, what with his booming baritone vocal and lyrics which hinted at occult knowledge and unearthly desires, but in person he was a charming, well-mannered and extremely well-educated chap from East Anglia who seemed to know that what he was putting on was an elaborate act.

The time I met Eldritch was around the time of the release of their biggest album, 1987's Floodland, when the Sisters of Mercy were about to go into the stratosphere.

From early beginnings at Leeds University as a two-piece (Eldritch and guitarist Garry Marx plus the drum machine nicknamed Doktor Avalanche), the band had spent eight years building up a following, adding members along the way and releasing the great debut album First and Last and Always in 1985. It was just after that release that the line-up sundered, leaving Eldritch with the drum machine and on a mission for revenge.

budget

That duly came two years later when Eldritch had recruited former Gun Club bassist Patricia Morrison, scored a deal with WEA and found himself working with a huge budget (record companies were spending money like drunken sailors back in those days). Hugely expensive videos were made for the hit singles This Corrosion and Dominion, the latter being filmed at Petra in Jordan. But what was even more mental was that the former ended up being produced by none other than Jim Steinman.

The man who'd written Bat Out of Hell brought an almost comic bombast to This Corrosion, but it actually worked - Eldritch's operatic semi-seriousness chiming perfectly with Steinman's apocalyptic Spectorisms. Gloriously stupid and glorious at the same time.

The last great thing the Sisters did was 1992's epic reworking of Temple of Love, complete with eerie additional vocal from Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Still, should be good fun live though.

> george byrne


The Sisters of Mercy play 
Vicar Street on Wednesday

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