Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Date 14 Years In The Making...

In 1992, I was in my third year of college at my Alma Mater, John Abbott College. Abbott was known at the time as a "country club" school. And I guess depending on what kind of program you were in (technical or pre-university) and what your discipline was (sciences, arts, business) it could have been.

I was in Lit & Lang (Often called Clit & Tongue) or Literature and Languages. I started off wanting to be a writer, then I wanted to be a teacher, then I wanted to be a filmmaker. By the time I graduated in May of 1993, I had a great liberal-arts education. I spent the next four years on welfare before finally finding employment.

In 1992, the Grunge Era was in full swing; bands like Nirvanna, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, the Smashing Pumpkins...these were our musical Gods. And surely if these were our gods, than the Titans who came before them were Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

At the time, Abbott boasted (or quietly downplayed) The Oval Coffee House; a smoking lounge in the basement of the main building. At the time it was a filthy little hole in the wall with white stucco walls (at least they USED to be white), cracked salmon-pink asbestos floor tiles, pipes, ducts and wires dangling from the ceiling and a cloud of smog to make the air over Los Angeles appear positively clear. Compare that with the Oval of today (I refuse to acknowledge that travesty by linking to images of it) and you see what a mystic legacy was lost.

But I digress; Because hard rock was the "pop" music of the era (Boy bands like New Kids on the Block and hip-hop jokes like Milli Vanilli and Technotronic having beed obliterated) those of us into "alternative" music had to look elsewhere; Techno music was still fluctuating between progressive house and video-game soundtracks so it was mainly a bust--and the rave scene in Montreal was still essentially nonexistant. Into the alternative void where 70s rock retro and Grunge dared not tread were talents like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Morressey, King Missile and The Sisters of Mercy.

I like to quantify the Sisters of Mercy as the progenitors of Goth. They were doing weird and spooky shit when Robert Smith was picking up his first guitar. They started performing in the early 1980s and to date have only released five albums: 1985's First And Last And Always, a fantastically creepy first album, 1987's Floodland an under-rated but quintessential and archetypal 1980's post-new-wave Goth album, 1990's Vision Thing an album I quite simply never could get behind, 1992's Some Girls Wander By Mistake, a compilation of their early 12-inch LPs (ask your parents what an LP was kids) and demo tapes and arguably their best work EVER. 1993's A Slight Case of Overbombing was the last thing they released; "volume 1" of their greatest hits; an okay album but not them at their best, IMHO.

Back in 1992 I was friends with a fellow suburban Punk named Jon. He introduced me to the Sisters of Mercy one night while we were hanging out at an abandoned rest stop off the highway in Rigaud, smoking dope. I was hooked from the first few drum-machine beats on Alice, the first track from Some Girls Wander By Mistake. This was music unlike anything I'd listened to before. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.

Although years and miles have separated me from Jon's friendship and company, I've never stopped listening to the Sisters of Mercy, and they have forever shaped, warped and perverted my musical tastes.

And in '92, the Sisters of Mercy were at the height of their popularity here in Montreal. We had ourselves a nice little counterculture scene back then; La Nausee and Les Foufounes Electriques were the popular Punk/Goth(Only back then the term "Goth" had yet to be coined) hangouts and the Sisters of Mercy were even known to play a gig or two in our town. Unfortunately, I never got to see them in concert.

And then last week I was leaving through the Montreal Mirror, a weekly tabloid-format newspaper that used to be a lot more underground than the club-listing, trend-tracking rag it is now, and I came across an advertizement that the Sisters of Mercy were going to play a gig at the Metropolis on March 11th.

(Now, it is ironic that the Sisters would be playing at the Metropolis, because back in the day no self-respecting Counterculture Revolutionary would be caught dead on the same side of the street as that place; it was a pretentious little far-off-Crescent-Street nightclub. Now, it's a show venue.)

I could scarcely believe it: The Sisters of Mercy are returning to Montreal! And today, I purchased my ticket; I'm counting down the days until the show; I've not been this excited to see a concert in, well, forever; I'm going to get to experience the Sisters of Mercy LIVE!!!!

Granted I'm not 21 anymore, and I'm sober, married and have a job. I'm not looking to revisit my youth or even stumble into old friends (although it would be neat if I did). I'm just wanting to see the Sisters of Mercy in concert. And I will. I've been wanting this for 14 years; I've missed a few chances to see them perform in those intervening years, but on Saturday the 11th of March, I will at long last fulfil that particular dream.