The Sisters Of Mercy Live In London ’85
Revisiting their dark and gloomy live show at The Royal Albert Hall.
Delivering a proper live performance at a prestige venue like London’s Royal Albert Hall requires a certain level of skill and charisma. With their legendary 1985 gig formerly known as Wake, The Sisters Of Mercy created the sort of atmosphere that managed to transport the audience into a different world. All of that happened during a period of press rumours, band infighting, and the aftermath of troubles recording their debut.
As the last concert of the band’s Armageddon Tour, it was the first time the group would see London after flying back from New York and their US dates. Kicking off the night with “First and Last and Always”, frontman Andrew Eldritch proved that he could control an entire venue like The Royal Albert Hall with only his energy and physical presence onstage. Follow-up tracks like “No Time to Cry”, “Marian”, or “Alice”, perfectly saw his distinctive baritone emerging, with the acoustics of the hall working in the band’s favour.
The recording’s title Wake referred to the practice of leaving a dead body to see if the deceased would revive. Referenced in novels like James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, this definitely showed a love for the macabre but also summed up the energy of the night. The pulsing basslines in combination with Eldritch’s gloomy vocals were more than enough to raise the dead. With the knowledge that their average fan was perhaps happiest in between worlds, The Sisters created an intimate atmosphere despite tour fatigue and the pressure of their first gig back home.
In the end, there’s something about the gig that leaves us with an irreplicable atmosphere that cannot be logically analysed. It is primal and visceral and gets right down to the bones even when rewatching it online. The night closed with a succession of encores, including a cover version of Bob Dylan’s classic hit “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. With the band’s Armageddon Tour going out with a bang, Wake is a fortunate piece of music history – a video-captured moment of The Sisters proving they could stay afloat despite previous difficulties.