Tim Sinister, 2009
I should lead with a confession. The first Sisters album I listened to was 1987’s Floodland, and it made a more significant impact than their debut ever did.
How could it not? Eldritch was in top form, flush from victory over his treacherous minions and armed with the pulchritudinous Patricia Morrison and devoted Doktor Avalanche to produce his ultimate vision of The Sisters of Mercy. The techno-experimentation of the ‘Sisterhood’ era gave way to a polished collection of icy synths and sneering superiority led by three of the finest singles the band has ever produced. Less than a week ago I saw The Sisters of Mercy live and they ended on the triumph that is This Corrosion – still a potent weapon in the band’s live arsenal.
And yet, for all Floodland is a finely honed, bombastic blast of Sisters creativity, it is to First and Last and Always we must look for what I believe to be the ‘truest’ sound of this most definitive band. To many fans, the cowboy-hat wearing smoke-wreathed silhouettes are the golden-age lineup – Gary Marx, Andrew Eldritch, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams, clawing their way up the indie charts and into WEA’s signing book, before breaking into America in debauched and doom-laden style.
The Tory Party has claimed an additional 66 seats in the UK General Election, giving them a sizable majority and a seeming indictment of the British desire to “get on with Brexit”. Key Labour strongholds in the North succumbed to a blue tide that saw the opposition party suffer its worst election performance in decades.
In a parallel universe however, there was a rare display of Goth unity and the black clad put their vote in the red box en masse. Even the other left-wing, anti-Brexit parties like the Liberal Democrats and Greens lost supporters in droves to Labour.
As the United Kingdom hobbles towards another General Election – our third in four years – I received some quiet inquiries about if I’d be asking readers how they’ll be voting.
I covered the 2015 Election, which ushered in a notable majority for the still-reigning Tory Party even though the goths voted overwhelmingly Green!
Then in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May gambled on securing more authority in Parliament to push through legislation for Brexit, that ended up tumbling her party’s now slender grip. The vampire vote of British goths reflected the burgeoning prospects of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, tempting the “largely” leftish alternative group, as the party gained nearly thirty new seats.
“After years and years of living with repression and religious guilt, I had finally shaken off those shackles to become the clichéd licentious, degenerate, promiscuous rock star – everything my mother had feared I’d become.”
I’ve met Wayne a couple of times now. Once all the way to Dublin to see them rehearse before touring in support of their last album, Another Fall from Grace. Wayne was a sedate, convivial host with a wicked sense of humour and a quiet core of confident self reliance.
To square that with the hell-raising front man of stadium touring goth rockers The Mission was a challenge. To imagine him at the right hand of Eldritch, crafting the rich riffs that define First and Last and Always, arguably the most iconic period of The Sisters Of Mercy, was nigh-on impossible.
Greetings to everyone attending Whitby Goth Weekend right now, and hello to everyone travelling down next weekend for Tomorrow’s Ghost Festival. Yes, we’re in the final throes of the great Whitby division, where the two competing events are occurring at separate times.
Next year, they’ll run side-by-side but from now until next Monday, goths will be heading to and leaving from the small seaside town that has become a major nexus of the UK scene.