CONCERT REVIEW : Sister of Mercy – Barrowland Glasgow 23rd November 2023

On a gloomy evening, the famed Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow shimmered beneath the iridescent glow of its venue lights as a swarm of fans, universally dressed in black, excitedly awaited their early admittance to watch the iconic goth band, Sisters of Mercy. The crowd was a varied bag of all ages, and their sheer numbers along the front of the auditorium attested to the band’s lasting popularity. Originally scheduled to perform at the SWG3 venue in Glasgow’s West End, the much-anticipated show was rescheduled for the Barrowland Ballroom in the city’s bustling East End. The sight of the excited goth community waiting in the rain formed an iconic picture of the Sisters of Mercy’s profound allure and the Barrowland Ballroom’s eternal attractiveness.

The Virginmarys, a two-piece powerhouse from Macclesfield, kicked off the evening at the famous Barrowland Ballroom. Ali Dickaty and Danny Dolan’s duet grabbed the Glasgow audience with their incredibly strong sound. Danny Dolan’s strong and passionate drumming, in particular, captivated the attention of everyone in the audience. Their fantastic show included highlight tracks such as their new hit, The Meds, and fan classic, Just A Ride. The audience was captivated by every thunderous rhythm and lyrical delivery, thanks to the band’s physical skill and imposing stage presence. The band was gracious and genuine in their appreciation to the audience, with Ali expressing his heartfelt pleasure for performing in the bustling city. To the surprise of the audience, they offered a poignant performance of one of their cherished older songs, Bang, Bang, Bang, before humbly vacating the stage to a standing ovation. If you haven’t seen The Virginmarys live, you should. Their riveting combination of raw strength, resonant lyrics, and unforgettable live presentations make them a must-see act.

The long-awaited moment had arrived: it was time to welcome back the legendary Sisters of Mercy. The legendary band, which includes founding member Andrew Eldritch and outstanding guitarists Ben Christo and Kia, was ready to take the stage with Doktor Avalanche, the original drum machine, as their signature component. Instead of their typical theatrical entrance punctuated by a deluge of dry ice, the stage was flooded with basic backlighting, just enough to watch the band members take their positions. The excitement grew as silhouettes rushed around the stage, preparing for an incredible performance.

The Sisters of Mercy attacked the stage with a spectacular opening set, lead by the unmistakable Andrew Eldritch. The band began with the energetic and fantastic “Doctor Jeep/Detonation Boulevard,” which had the audience on their feet and singing along, relishing in the explosive intensity. Eldritch, famed for his theatrical performances, played hide and seek with the spotlight, only to discover the ideal zone that highlighted his enigmatic presence, giving rise to a stunning illusion. The energy remained high as Eldritch’s hypnotic vocals rise, propelling the band to perform “Don’t Drive on Ice,” followed by “Ribbons,” both unforgettable pieces from the blockbuster album “Vision Thing.” The spectacular and strong start to the show wowed the audience.

Andrew Eldritch’s vocals charted a harmonic voyage across their famous legacy, making the event an exhilarating blend of past and present. As Eldritch controlled the stage and the audience yelled out the lyrics to ‘Alice,’ the venue reverberated with the unmistakable sounds of the band’s music. The band then changed gears, singing a stunning rendition of ‘Dominion/Mother Russia,’ a classic from their critically acclaimed Floodland album. It was a nostalgic moment, transporting fans back to the historic Floodland tour. The Sisterhood’s performance of ‘Marian’ and version of ‘Giving Ground’ made it evident that the night’s highlights were still the old classic classics. It was a one-of-a-kind event, with Andrew Eldritch’s captivating vocal performance keeping an electric vibe going all night.

Under the guidance of Andrew Eldritch, the Sisters of Mercy brought electrifying energy to the stage throughout the set and enthralled the crowd with their stunning version of “But Genevieve.” Eldritch’s haunting vocals, the resonating strum of guitars, and the rhythmic pulse of the drum machine were all enhanced by the superb sound quality. The band members’ faces lit up with excitement as Sisters of Mercy triumphantly restored their position at the pinnacle of the music landscape with this fantastic performance. As they continued with their concert, which featured “I Was Wrong,” “When I’m On Fire,” and the lively “On The Beach,” their connection with the audience was evident. The atmosphere in the auditorium erupted with the first chords of “Temple of Love,” practically rising the roof off the building as the crowd participated in a collective singalong. It was a lesson in the power of live performance as the band and audience became one in this shared musical experience. The dimmed lights signalled the end of an extraordinary night as the song ended and the band fled the stage.

The dramatic performance of Sisters of Mercy, a quartet of lasting Goth rock icons, gripped the Glasgow audience. Andrew Eldritch’s charismatic presence led the band. The audience communicated a common desire for “One More Song,” and to their joy, the band returned to the stage, exuding gratitude for the extraordinarily energetic Glasgow night. The band’s performance of “Lucretia My Reflection,” a song that caused the entire stadium to sing in unison and dance ecstatically, was a high point of the evening. The males from the band The Virginmarys joined Sisters of Mercy on stage to share in the performance of the final song, the magnificent “This Corrosion.” The amazing performance, combined with the enthusiastic chanting and dancing of the audience, created an electric environment, capping off an incredible night of music.

Sisters of Mercy were in top form, delivering a set brimming with raw fire and passion, and this was no mere snub.

Review by Karen Edmond

Photographs by James Edmond

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