You have to feel sorry for Boscombe. Not only did it lose its weekly exposure on Saturday sports results shows when current English Premier League football club AFC Bournemouth changed their name (from Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic) in 1972, but the venue of The Sisters of Mercy’s only stop on that part of the South Coast has also dropped the town’s name, being now known as the O2 Academy Bournemouth (see photo from their website below) as opposed to the Boscombe Academy moniker it enjoyed back on Friday 29th April 1983. Following the end of the tour with The Gun Club, the band dotted around the country getting gigs where they could as their fame began to spread, and performed in Boscombe two nights after the Swindon Solitaire gig and the night before the Nottingham Union Rowing club concert.
A recording of the gig now resides in the comprehensive Dark Circle Room vault along with a description of the gig by the person who provided it : “This was a spectacularly good gig…I wish I had the promotional poster for this gig as they were listed as the Sisters of Mersey! Eldritch mentions this in a rare spoken moment on the tape.” Before the band launched into a blistering version of Jolene, Von clearly intones “We are NOT the Sisters of Mersey”. The setlist contained no surprises, but favoured Valentine over Gimme Shelter, with the tape provider adding, “I’m not sure if they played a short set because they came on early, the main band being an appalling local New Romantic crowd.” (could this have been CaVa CaVa, a short-lived but much-hyped band from that area ?).Looking at the venue in its magnificent refurbished glory (£3 million was spent on the Grade II listed building in a refurbishment of 2006/7), it might be hard to imagine the air of slightly faded grandeur which what was originally (back in 1895)the Boscombe Grand Theatre had in the early 80’s, but thanks to the wonderful Arthur Lloyd website we need imagine no more, and I am grateful to them for their permission to reproduce this photo taken by Ted Bottle in 1985, one of several on their site which shows the interior of the building..
With a sound and light system now worthy of the third millennium, and with old tour mates Public Enemy booked in to do a show in December, this is another venue which is well overdue a visit from the band.