The postponement of The Sisters of Mercy concert in October resulted in a strange situation: Within 24 hours I watched in the same venue the much expected concerts of two popular bands in Greece. Despite their significant musical differences, the fact that The Sisters of Mercy belong in the original Post-Punk generation in contrast to Editors who are Post-Punk Revivalists, led to some inevitable comparisons. Here are the results ...
I have to begin this review by referring to the unacceptable concert venue. Surely the increased demand for tickets led the organizers to seek alternative halls - especially in the case of "Sisters”. But the Gazi Music Hall, may be capable of hosting thousands of spectators (and it was actually filled to almost suffocating conditions), but it is not suitable for Rock music. It may work just fine for bouzouki, but the sound of Rock bands is different and engineers seemed to struggle in order to produce a decent sound. Especially in the Editors concert, the initially loud drums had to be gradually lowered so that the rest of the music could be heard properly. However, Andrew Eldritch’s and Tom Smith’s vocals were sometimes lost in a general hubbub, and this was unfair to both artists and their distinctive voices. Moreover, the crowd had to exit from the same entrance they came in and this raised questions in relation to suitable escape exits in case of danger.
The crowd in the Editors concert was larger but not much larger than that of “Sisters”. Clearly the turnout reflected the popularity they enjoy at the moment in Greece – and that’s why they played in Thessaloniki the next day. It was also a younger crowd in age, spanning from 7 (!) to 57. The presence of older rockers is a further proof of their reputation in our country. Finally, Editors’ crowd was considerably more enthusiastic, singing, dancing and leaping incessantly to the point that you felt that the Gazi Music Hall would collapse.
With regard to their performance, Editors proved to be an elaborate band, which doesn’t waste a second of time. They gave me the impression that they do not play real music but they are programmed in laboratory conditions. Each song starts and ends in an automated way and in my own eyes and ears, this is not Rock‘n’ Roll. Of course, their set list was rich enough and lasted more than one hour and half and the audience, that obviously does not share my own objections, left in ecstasy. Memorable moments for Editors: Many, due to the excitement of the audience but the most characteristic moments came with "Sugar" and "Papillion" in the encore. The stage presence of Tom Smith, was obviously more contrived than spontaneous and in the end his movements can never match Morissey’s or Tim Booth’s.
The crowd in The Sisters of Mercy concert was somewhat smaller, but not as much as one would expect for a Sunday. As a result, proper concert conditions were created – and it should be noted that the attendees were real fans, not just trend followers. The age-average was higher, since the children who attended Editors were missing - I guess not because they had to go to school the next day. However, there were many twentysomething and special mention should be made to the female figures who responded well to the demands of the evening with their striking Goth transformations.
The Sisters of Mercy on stage seemed rather tired. At times they gave me the impression that they just wanted to get the job done. On the other hand, their communication with the audience was much better and did not have the clinical character of Editors. Andrew Eldritch made often walks from one end of the stage to the other (as opposed to static Smith) so that fans that didn’t have direct contact with the stage could see him. Also in this concert some powerful moments did occur, especially towards the end, with “Vision Thing”, “This Corrosion” and of course “Temple of Love”. I left having the impression that The Sisters of Mercy unlike Editors honor more the tradition of British Rock, as we came to know and love it, but they could have tried more.
As a conclusion: Editors were strong, unstoppable but too proper, unwrinkled and clean. The Sisters of Mercy were a little tired, but more punkish, dark and dirty, i.e. more Rock.
Editors, December 4 2015, Gazi Music Hall by Ejekt Festival
The Sisters of Mercy, December 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2015, Gazi Music Hall by Andrew Eldritch
Editors’ photos: Natou Natou