1998/02/03, Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL, USA

Event Horizon 1998

January 14
January 16
January 17
January 18
January 20
January 21
January 22
January 24
January 25
January 26
 Brussels January 30
 New York
January 31
 Washington (cancelled)
February 1
February 3
February 5
 San Francisco
February 6
 San Francisco
February 7
 Los Angeles
February 12
February 13

Third show in America, third time with same setlist (last encore was skipped again) and third time with sound problems. Same old story -- muffled sound with low vocals. The latter probably due to Andrew's cold barring his ability to sing loud enough.

There was no support act.

Setlist | Reviews

  • Intro: Fly and Collision of Comas Sola
  • Intro: Afterhours

  • First and Last and Always
  • Ribbons
  • Come Together
  • Train/Detonation Boulevard
  • Amphetamine Logic
  • War on Drugs (Von's comment: "You, me, and Madeline Albright, the world's ugliest woman.")
  • Giving Ground
  • (We Are the Same) Suzanne
  • On the Wire/Teachers/On the Wire
  • Will I Dream
  • Dominion/Mother Russia
  • Summer
  • Anaconda
  • Romeo Down
  • Flood II
  • Temple of Love
  • Comfortably Numb/Some Kind of Stranger
  • Something Fast
  • This Corrosion

    Unplayed encore

  • Jolene
  • Vision Thing
  • Thanks to Ben Maki (bmaki@interaccess.com), Gus Hartmann (hartmann@cs.wisc.edu).
    Setlist scanned by Jeremy Wininger (martyr@evansville.net) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site.

    Setlist | Reviews

    Written by Dr. Honda of Downers Grove (robert.blair-smith@wcom.com) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site

    Things that I might have overheard at the Riviera last night had me ears not been a-plugg'd:

    AE: "Aloha Chicago!" (If that curious orange-pink chamois garment wasn't from the Big Island, it surely came from Jennifer Saunders' "Edina" wardrobe. Either that or Jack Bruce's from 30 years back.)

    American Sisters Fan Who Last Saw Band In 1991 Vision Thing Tour: "Since when did David J join the Sisters, and where the fuck is Daniel?"

    Typical American Club Fan: "Dude... when are they gonna play some Stones or Floyd?"

    Aging Gothaholic: "Damn. I forgot where I put my eye-liner!"

    Recovering Gothaholic: "Damn. I forgot where I parked my Audi!"

    Pagan VisiGoth Stuck In The 80s: "Floorshow, Floorshow! Floorshow!"

    Now for some actual events:


    Actual Musical Lineup: Adam Pearson (lead guitar - more on that travesty later) stage right, Michael Varjak (rhythm and acoustic guitar) stage left, Doktor Avalanche (drums, chorus, bass, brass, dry ice, drinks) backstage, and of course, Sir Andrew (Eldritch) front and center.

    Plus some guy back right and elevated behind the rafters. Although usually obscured by fog, my guess is he was occasionally playing keyboards/bass tones on the MIDI machine. Most of the time, though, it appeared that this analytical-looking chap was balancing the tour books right there on stage. Couldn't find a quiet place, I suppose.

    Actual Set List (with memorable moments):

    Ribbons -- "just walk on in". I did. 3 minutes late. I'm a sorry excuse for a fan
    Come Together -- new-ish. "Thank yoooooou..." He seemed unusually gracious tonight.
    Train -- "Fast" Train, more like. The Doktor was on uppers or something.
    Detonation Boulevard.
    Logic -- also double-time. Nothinbuttheknifetolivefor1lifeallIneed...
    War on Drugs -- new to USA fans.
    Giving Ground -- this Sisterhood gem is very nice live.
    We Are the Same Suzanne -- new.
    Teachers -- turned into
    On the Wire -- perhaps a post-WEA compilation is on the way?
    Dominion/Mother Russia.
    Summer -- new. This will be the hit single in the US, or nothing will.
    Anaconda -- Andrew boldly cracks his voice into a yodel on this number.
    Romeo Down -- new, another good one.
    Flood II -- I am 3-for-3 hearing this live. I wish Flood I got more recognition.
    Last 1/2 of Temple of Love -- Michael synchs the guitar part along with the omni-present Doktor.
    Comfortably Numb -- dissolved into
    Some Kind of Stranger -- oh I see, Andrew, yes they really are the same song. Pity Messrs. Waters & Gilmour never gave you due credit for it.
    Something Fast -- played slow, as it turns out. Andrew actually smiled.
    This Corrosion -- got a song for me? How about Kiss the Carpet?
    Lights -- not the Reptile House EP song, that's a stage term for End Of Show. It would have been nice to hear Valentine, though.

    My biased impressions aside, let's just say that the record will show that the Riviera nightclub was convincingly packed inside and out. The Head Sister gained more and more confidence as the show led on towards the end, belying his publicly stated "fright" on stage. This is the new (blonde!) Andrew Eldritch and only his dour, concave jawline gave him away. The crowd was refreshingly more dressed-down than I expected. Some even came wearing Polos. Those who dressed up did so tastefully and with some exceptions (old-timers-turned-stockbrokers attempting mascara and face paint) there was a strong and broad coalition of Sisters of Mercy followers in enthusiastic attendance. It is a finicky audience, though.

    Not having been to a German or UK show of theirs, I can only relay to you with my own midwestern bias that the American audience loves / cheers on the classics (Dominion, Flood II, Corrosion) and watches politely during the rest. This is the sordid state of Rock and Roll in (as a Suede page scribe put it) The United States of Aerosmith. No doubt the off-core performance of Comfortably Numb confused US fans and newcomers alike. Some Bic lighters even flashed during that number.

    But Andrew seemed in perfect strength and energy: his open-lipped stare as enticing as ever, his on-stage wandering and reactions seemed to even egg on his audience, and his voice was never sharper and more pronounced as through the Riviera's well-oiled sound machines.

    Overall, I'd say it ranks as the best concert since the Public-Enemy / Gang of Four 1991 show here in Illinois (and that was the one where the Doktor broke down during Body and Soul. Andrew had to ad-lib Stop Draggin' My Heart Around while the Doktor was "in surgery" on that night). My only disappointment was the lack of a full-time bassist. But I guess no-one's complained about the lack of drummer for 17 years so I suppose that's a lost cause.

    And no, my bribery attempts to get the soundman to assist me with my cassette were for naught.

    Written by Brian Showers (bshowers@students.wisc.edu) for Dominion mailing list

    > Plus some guy back right and elevated behind the rafters <...> my guess is he
    > was occasionally playing keyboards/bass tones on the MIDI machine.

    The guy behind the rigging was the "nurse" to Doktor Avalanche. At times I could plainly see him. He was on the heavier side I think, and was wearing a blaze orange paramedic's jumpsuit with a red cross patch on the breast.

    Speaking of band members, I met Mike Varjak in Chicago, he came outside to talk to me. Really a very nice guy :) I was told by Dean (the video camera guy who's now so famous) that he and Eldy get on real well.

    Written by Monte Householter (monte3@idt.net) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site

    When I first walked into the Riviera, I spotted Von Eldritch's underlings (Adam, Michael, and Co. - sans Von) talking to each other by the mixing desk. Nobody recognized them except me (hey, I spend too much time on the internet). Eventually, Michael and later Adam sauntered over to talk to (hit on?) a girl who was sitting by her lonesome.

    The show was to start at 7 pm, but I knew that wasn't gonna happen as it was approaching 8 pm and Adam & Co. were still socializing in the crowd. Nobody in there right mind would expect Eldritch to start a show a 7pm anyway, with full moons and caskets yet to unearth. I was a bit disappointed there was no opening band which seems to be a trend (Bowie, Verve) lately.

    Around 8pm, smoke started oozing out and Tangerine Dream's "Fly" started to reel. A muffled FALAA began the proceeding as Eldritch entered the maelstrom in bright garb. The Prince returns with a stern smirk on his face.

    Let me just say that the sound was beyond awful. It was like taking 3 plastic bags and putting them around your head and hoping for the haze to lift. The guitars were very weak in the mix as I've heard toy guitars make better sounds. If you were trying to follow the vocals, all you heard was a low drone occasionally lifted by Von's shouting.

    Very slow start, as the crowd (not many goths!) didn't wake until Dominion. Too many new and obscure songs played (anybody for a release of On the Wire, Train, and Giving Ground on CD?). Of the new songs, only Summer and Suzanne seemed to rise above complacency which the other new songs succumbed to.

    Suggestion to Andrew: Please drop Temple of Love from the setlist. The phrase, 'If you can't do it properly, don't do it at all' comes to mind. No ascending guitar riff + no hard-driving bass & drums = grand, majestic thud!

    Just when you were ready to write-off Von Eldritch as a no-show, he comes out and does a spine-tingling rendition of Comfortably Numb that segued into a harrowing version of Some Kind of Stranger. Brilliant to say the least.

    For the 2nd encore, it was time for "Sing-a-long with Andy Taylor" in the anthem of This Corrosion. By this time, the crowd was really mad for it (or was it the alcohol consumption?) with everyone screaming and Von doing ridiculous things with a mic stand. Next thing you know, the fog lifts and Von has left the building.

    And everyone sighs, "So when does the new album come out?"

    Written by Jessica Rogers (jabby@eris.quintessential.com) for Dominion mailing list

    Gurm. I'll bet Andrew was pleased when he saw the crowd at the Riviera; less than half goth. The rest were Midwestern Scruff.

    How many of you noticed that Michael was circulating through the crowd and the line outside the Riviera? He was answering questions, giving autographs, and just plain talking to people for the hell of it. He came up to the girl next to me and started talking to her. I wasn't feeling inclined to meet him, having photographed him in Philly, so I just watched and listened. She had no idea who he was when he came up and started talking to her, and she said, "You can't stand here. I'm saving this spot." He replied, "I'm Michael. I'm with the band." She still had no idea who he was. I was rolling laughing.

    Some moron thought of starting some stupid semblance of a mosh pit during Giving Ground. During This Corrosion (or thereabouts -- memory slips on me now) didn't he say "Rise and Reverberate" to get the crowd encouraged to sing or at least act alive? And how about that bit during Ribbons? "be afraid now be afraid now." To me that changed the whole meaning of the song. Ribbons is one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, live pieces.

    Lame venue. WHY did they pick one that has a ten pm curfew? (Yes, the Riviera strongly enforces a curfew. That might be one reason there was no opening act.)

    The crowd was dead. Looked shabby, acted dead. That's all I have to say about it.

    Overall, everything but the performers was a huge disappointment. Go figure.

    For those of you who have mailed me and were interested (or faked a good job of being interested) in my condition (very pregnant when I went to see the Sisters in Chicago and the excitement caused me to be bedridden for two weeks), my daughter Raven Serena was born February 14 at 6:42 pm. So I suppose that in some vague and indirect and spiritually intangible manner that Andrew and company were responsible for getting labor started. Hee.

    So please pass the info on to Mr. Eldritch that's he's an honorary godfather. :)

    Written by Ben Maki (bmaki@interaccess.com) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site

    Overall, it was a fair show. I was not too impressed but it fell right in with my expectations. The set list was an exact copy of Toronto's (literally, it even had the Toronto date on it). Concert progressed much like it sounds the others have. Sound was fair, vocals lost in the mix. Where I was at you could only make out what Andrew was singing because you knew the words well enough.

    Personally, it would have been nice to hear some of the older material played closer to its original sound. Updating everything to the new dancier beat kinda made the whole show sound the same (the more recent stuff sounded okay since it's already been dancified.) Probably the best sounding song was Comfortably Numb, both in performance and in sound mix, and some of the "recent" big hits (This Corrosion, Flood II, Dominion/Mother Russia). I have to admit, not having heard anything about the tour prior to the show, I was surprised to hear Giving Ground (and a nice version too).

    I'll have to think long and hard before going to see them again. I didn't get much more out of the live performance than I'd get at home listening to their stuff in a mass of smoke.

    Written by Robert Plunkett (plunkett@freenet.msp.mn.us) for Dominion mailing list

    ...after having been up for 24+ hours, and ready for bed, I will report as I remember, even if in fragments.

    Company and I start out on the road from Minneapolis to Chicago for a six hour drive, and finally arrive at around 4pm. As we near the Riviera, we see some gothy-goths, and know we're in the right place. We go and eat, and hang out until about 6pm, then line up. After a bit, the line starts moving, and we eventually get in.

    The venue looks great -- worn down, slightly "turn of the (20th) century" feel. Very personal. No opening act apparently, so after standing for two hours, the dry ice machines really begin to kick it into high-gear around 8pm. Soon, the Tangerine Dream music starts, and shortly after, the assault that is "First and Last and Always" begins. I recognize it right away, and it's great.

    Andrew looks exquisite, and the song comes off beautifully. I remember Ribbons, Romeo Down (damn fine), Temple of Love, Comfortably Numb/Some Kind of Stranger, Summer, (We Are the Same) Suzanne, Dominion/Mother Russia, Vision Thing, Logic, Temple of Love, Flood II and This Corrosion. The encores were three in number, and contained some of the above.

    Although not my favorite Sisters songs, Flood II and This Corrosion were the best in quality, from my vantage point. The crowd loved it, the band was gracious, and the guitarists are a keeper, especially Pearson.

    That's all for now.

    Written by Matt Redman (m-redman@students.uiuc.edu) for Dominion mailing list

    The set list was the same as before, no opening act. At about 8, they start the Tangerine Dream song. After that, Dok kicked in and starting a little bit of Afterhours. They come on out and start to play, Andy in his Chinese jacket. For most of the show, Andy was in a "Hawaiian" over shirt with lots of flowers and stuff. Under that he had a stripped colored shirt. For the encores, he had on a white turtleneck shirt. Leather pants and his big belt that I think he wore around VT times.

    The lights were good, lots of smoke sometimes totally concealing the band. Andy said something about a foreign policy before War on Drugs. Romeo Down was great - love the bass line. I think they need a real bassist. Will I Dream is pretty guitar heavy and sounds like a VT outtake. For some reason, I think it might be released as a single -- has a catchy chorus. Giving Ground was the best I heard so far (but only heard it live two times except for bootlegs). The sound was good in the front from where I was. No one seemed to be moving at all except for myself.

    I know that it was filmed by at least two people, someone with a tripod way in the back and the guy up in front -- he got lots of footage of the crowd and stuff like that. I also know the show was bootlegged, but I don't know with what equipment.

    That's all for now. I'm off for the SF and LA gigs.

    Written by Matthew Caine (SoulKiss77@aol.com) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site

    Well, well... After traveling to the Riviera performance from nearby Phoenix, AZ, I have returned home with very few complaints concerning The Sisters' offering to Chicago.

    After the lights remained on nearly an hour after the scheduled showtime, the theatre went dark to the music of the now familiar Fly and Collision of Comas Sola instrumental, which then was overpowered by the droning Afterhours. Hearing this alone sent the energy up throughout the building. Afterhours was then silenced by the arrival of Eldritch and Co., saying hello with First and Last and Always.

    The setlist was nearly identical to the Philadelphia show last year, with a few new songs seemingly weeding out (to my dismay) such songs as Body Electric, and Alice. Not hearing either of these two was tragic in some senses, but I suppose I shouldn't be in any place to complain, eh?

    As far as Uncle's behavior, I was shocked. Andrew appeared to be in a somewhat GOOD mood, and even seemed to be enjoying himself a bit. Judging from the appearance of the crowd, I would have thought he would have a field day, but shit-talk was (somewhat unfortunately) held to a minimum.

    Here's hoping that they can go directly from the tour into the studio, and get the new material out immediately. Not to sound at all anxious Andrew, but...

    Oh yes, if anyone managed to get a audio or video copy of the show, please contact me

    Written by Anna and Tory Mulch (vonmulch@csj.net) for The Sisters of Mercy Tours site

    As most concerts I have been to in the last three years, I knew better than to expect a live crowd. Being front row center stage was very eclectic to see and witness. Even though this concert was in a crappy venue, Andrew really seemed to pull it off.

    And for those of you who didn't get Comfortably Numb, go watch The Wall. Listen to Floodland. Repeat for about a week and philosophize your ideas, and if you still have a brain left, then you can figure out the connection.

    This was the best concert of my life. And Andrew shouldn't have to live up to our expectations. We have no basis on what he does, we are merely admirers of his art and we take from it what we will, not necessarily what it means. If you didn't like this show, you don't know what you're missing.

    Setlist | Reviews | Other dates