The Sisters of Mercy - 1997 - Distance Over Time


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Smoke and Mirrors

Summer 2002 Europe


Exxile on Euphoria

Trip the Light Fantastic

To the Planet Edge


Event Horizon

Distance Over Time

Roadkill/ Goldkill


Tour overview | Setlists overview | Interviews overview | Reviews overview

March 28
 Birmingham (cancelled)

June 3
June 7
June 9
June 10
June 11
June 13
June 28
July 10
July 12
July 18
July 20


Andrew Eldritch
Adam Pearson
backing vocals
Mike Varjak
Doktor Avalanche
Simon Denbigh
nurse to the Doktor

Read overview

  • Comfortably Numb / Some Kind of Stranger
  • Ribbons
  • Come Together
  • Train / Detonation Boulevard
  • Giving Ground
  • Amphetamine Logic
  • On the Wire / Teachers / On the Wire
  • Dominion / Mother Russia
  • Under the Gun (replaced by Summer halfway through the tour)
  • Anaconda
  • War on Drugs
  • Flood II
  • Temple of Love
  • First and Last and Always
  • This Corrosion
  • Something Fast
  • Vision Thing
  • Tour overview

    The Distance Over Time tour shortly followed the Roadkill/Goldkill (1996) footsteps -- first gig was announced as early as in December 1996. Its cancellation followed few month later, in February 1997. In that same February two new festival dates appeared -- Glauchau and Rendsburg. March saw addition of Wiesen and London gigs. Tour itinerary was nearly completed on April, with Philadelphia and Athens shows added on May.

    Name of the tour

    Apart from the obvious meaning (distance progression as time progresses), there is another explanation of the name -- part of physics formula distance/time, which equals to speed. And in many minds this word raises one association -- drugs (i.e. "give me more speed", as sung in numerous live performances of Amphetamine Logic). So there you have it -- the real name of the tour is Drugs.


    Andrew Eldritch - vocals
    Adam Pearson - guitar, backing vocals
    Mike Varjak - guitar
    Doktor Avalanche - drums, bass, keyboards
    Simon Denbigh - nurse to the Doktor

    Although in Virgin interview from May 1997 Eldritch stated that band's personnel haven't change since Roadkill/Goldkill (1996), two people onstage in 1997 were different: Chris Sheehan was replaced with Mike Varjak and Ravey Davey's position was taken by Simon Denbigh.

    Reason for Chris Sheehan's absence was that he was "helping some friends on a tour"; apparently, those friends were The Mutton Birds. After Perry Bamonte from The Cure turned down invitation to be the replacement, Yugoslavian born Mike Varjak entered the set. Rumors have it that Andrew discovered him working as session guitarist in London for lots and lots of unknown bands. As it turned out, Andrew and Mike got along really good, while Chris got interested in his own solo career as Chris Starling, on-and-off collaboration with the Muttons and occasional session musician spot -- so it's no surprise that Mike kept on playing with the band after Distance Over Time finished. He went on to compose music for several new Sisters songs -- which is much more than Chris had achieved during his short collaboration with the band.

    Ravey Davey was apparently replaced because he was unable to get USA visa needed for the Philadelphia show. Simon Denbigh, known for his collaborations with March Violets, Batfish Boys, D Rock and other ventures stepped in and, like Mike, stayed in the touring form of the band for years to come (he wasn't there in Event Horizon though).

    While we're on Doktor Avalanche, the founding member wasn't feeling well -- fixing its problems was common pastime during the tour, yet they showed up every now and then. He was definitely up for a brain surgery, which he eventually received.

    Near death experience

    As the Birmingham date got cancelled early (and was much, much earlier than all others) it didn't even appear in the official Distance Over Time itinerary. The first proper date of the tour, Leeds, technically wasn't The Sisters of Mercy gig: band played as New Meth Experience, mirroring previous Leeds gig in 1996 which kicked off Roadkill tour. Same as then, the gig was announced by Internet and word of mouth few days before the actual event, and was free for everybody who dared to squeeze themselves into the small, overpacked and overhumid pub.

    The band were having major technical problems, several setlisted songs were skipped, others were often flawed (Mike played This Corrosion during Dominion, Andrew didn't care to sing half of Burn), and Vision Thing was simply abandoned halfway. War on Drugs, the new song, missed the accelerating ending. It might be not so bad for a free pretour test gig, but reviews of the event turned up in UK's press, thus interrupting Near Meth Experience career for good.

    First proper Distance Over Time gig was Woodstage festival in Glauchau. Reportedly much better than the Leeds venture, this gig ended with unexpected Vision Thing, played after roadies had already started clearing up the stage.

    On the islands

    Shows in UK and Ireland were the only nonfestival dates this tour.

    Both first and second London gigs drew lots of various opinions. Some thought both were average gigs. Some (mostly press) though both were poor. Others though both were brilliant. Most agreed that second was better than the first. To continue the trend, some disagreed.

    Similar to Glauchau performance, the first gig ended with an unexpected encore in form of Jolene. Second gig finished with both Jolene and Confide in Me, both obviously not in initial setlist. Gary Marx was backstage during the second gig, although managed to avoid meeting Andrew there.

    Same as in London, crowd in Manchester were warmed up by Cubanate. Verses lyrics to the second new song this tour -- Summer -- were reportedly finished just before going onstage for concert which premierred the new classic. And same as in other UK dates, unexpected encore was in place -- once again, Jolene.

    London (and, apparently, Manchester) shows were organized by the band without help from any agency.

    Venue of Dublin gig was changed to smaller one few days before the actual show. Nobody supported Sisters. Andrew shared some of more funny oneliners ("If you don't wake up we're gonna come right over and we're gonna give you a real good kicking... I know where your children live"), and finished off with yet another -- apparently -- unexpected Jolene.


    Philadelphia gig was first band's show in USA since the ill-fated 1991 tour with Public Enemy. One of more widely publicized challenges its organizer Dancing Ferret faced was Andrew's wish to smoke on the way to USA, making it buy him a separate plane ticket from the rest of touring group.

    The promoter/Sisters relationship didn't go smooth. Few days before the gig Eldritch used veto clause in their contract and dropped off all three opening acts of the "festival", apparently because they didn't look right -- that is, looked too goth. A new lineup was quickly agreed upon, but waves of anger among primary Sisters audience in USA -- which all look very goth -- haven't come down for years to come. The fact that those who look very goth are just the audience Eldritch wouldn't wish to have as his primary didn't help it, either. The event was used to announce the infamous phrase "We are the Sisters of Mercy, and we are a rock'n'roll band".

    And the rest

    Not much can be said about the first Sisters gig in Greece in Rockwave festival in Athens -- there are no reviews of it here.

    The Dour festival performance was met with wide praise by everybody -- except the press. As always. Jolene as the final unexpected encore was once again in place. It also ended Forestglade festival in Wiesen -- must have been a stormy gig, then.

    The song was also an unexpected (ahem) addition to Supercrash festival in Rendsburg, but this time surprise ending concept was expanded to four songs filling two encores; the final song was resurrected Sister Ray, stretching nearly 18 minutes and including lyrics from Motörhead's back catalogue and -- surprise surprise -- Lucretia. The crowd was definitely worth it.

    On the seventh day

    Tour itinerary listing on t-shirts had one more date after Rendsburg -- place called Strand. Various guesses of whereabouts of the mysterious last gig were suggested: some theories cited places in nearly all Scandinavia which have Strand in their names, others mentioned financial quarters in London, where Eldritch could have put the money got from the extended Saturday job. The correct guess, according to the man himself, is a place in South African Republic where Andrew went for an aftertour holiday. Which was as important as the tour itself. Apparently.

  • Most pictures used in this page come from 1997/06/28 Philadelphia gig, taken by Jessica Walters; full versions are available in this site.

  • The second and the third pictures from top are from 1997/07/18 Wiesen gig, taken by Paivi Salonen (; you can find full versions of them at

  • Strand location map came from Microsoft's

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