When Andrew Eldritch roars “I want more” during the second encore of The Sisters Of Mercy’s third show in as many days, he obviously means it. Throughout his band’s final 40th anniversary London show, he’s performed with the untiring purpose of a man still looking ahead.
Album anniversary shows are meant to follow a formula. Play your biggest-selling album from start to finish, a multiple-of-five years after its release. Let fans around the world relive the big songs of their youth. Give them the chance to go to the bar or bathroom during the filler tracks. And send them home happy with a few other hits from your catalogue.
But there’s nothing formulaic about Heaven 17’s celebration of 1979’s Reproduction and the following year’s Travelogue.
Steve Louw is a storyteller. From the slow train of 1990’s ‘Waiting On The Dawn’ that “takes us back to the dreams and hopes we had when we were young”, to the restless wanderer of 2008’s ‘The Wind Blows’, the singer-songwriter has created imagery as vivid as the music that accompanies it.
‘Headlight Dreams’, Louw’s first international solo release, is no different.
Album anniversary tours are now as common as Liam Gallagher’s name at the top of festival bills. In just the past few weeks, everyone from Alanis Morrisette and Goldfrapp to David Gray and Jill Scott have announced treks honouring their landmark albums.
Even a band as obsessed with staying relevant as U2 are in Japan right now playing The Joshua Tree from start to finish, a full two years after first taking the LP around the rest of the world.
When The Lumineers hit the big time with 2012’s inescapable Ho Hey, they were lumped in with the other bands riding the folk revival wave of the time. Their contemporaries (say Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men) have since embraced Coldplay-rock, adult-oriented-pop, inoffensive electronica, and everything Imagine Dragons have ever done. But The Lumineers have stuck to their guns.
Of Monsters And Men are about so much more than songs with irresistible “la-la-la” choruses, impossibly sunny melodies, kooky lyrics about pet dragonflies and talking trees, and sudden jubilant outbursts of “hey!”. Of Monsters And Men are about spreading joy.
For 90 minutes, the Icelandic band cast their spell over the masses packed into a sold-out Eventim Apollo, resulting in almost involuntary behaviours: mass singalongs, synchronised clapping, arms-raised sway-dancing, and 5,000 voices shouting “hey!” as one.
Sonic Temple isn’t just The Cult’s highest-charting album (#3 in the UK, #10 in the US). It’s the one that gave them three bonafide Top 40 hits that they still play almost every night.
It’s the one that saw them double down on the all-out rock approach of predecessor Electric and (with titles like New York City and American Horse) take a big swing at the American market. It’s the one that convinced Metallica to hire producer Bob Rock.
Yannis Philippakis isn’t averse to getting into the crowd. You might say he loves it: the Foals singer has even been known to leap off the stage at such usually restrained affairs as a Rough Trade in-store performance.
But as the band’s following grows and they graduate to ever larger venues like Alexandra Palace, it’s been increasingly difficult for the average fan to get in on the very physical audience participation.
So intimate shows, like a free album release party at London’s House of Vans, are like catnip for fans wanting the full visceral experience. And a sweaty, raucous, body-breaking experience is certainly what the lucky 850 ticket holders (picked from over 40,000 applicants) get tonight.
Alice Cooper isn’t short on charisma – or experience. He could probably transfix an arena audience with acapella renditions of songs from long-forgotten album Zipper Catches Skin. All he’d need is an empty stage, some black greasepaint for his eyes, and perhaps a cane. His serpentine strut, regal poses, and arched eyebrow would do the rest.
But, after 50 years, he also knows what the people want. And that’s old school theatrics. So, at regular intervals during a whirlwind 90-minute set, out come Alice’s familiar crutch (for playing air guitar and pointing), sword (for swishing, conducting, and pointing), meat cleaver and knife (for vaudevillian homicide), and red cape (for fighting imaginary bulls).
Throwing Copper isn’t just Live’s second album. It’s the one that put them on the map, by topping the Billboard 200 charts, featuring five singles (including two US #1s), and selling over eight million copies. Now that it’s 25 years old, the band are celebrating with a special anniversary edition and at least two special intimate shows back home.
So when they begin their first London show in 10 years with the LP’s first song, the slow-climbing, deep-diving The Dam At Otter Creek, there’s a brief sense that they might perform the whole thing from start to finish.