1999/10/06, Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA, USA

To the Planet Edge 1999

July 18

September 23
September 24
 New York
September 25
September 27
September 28
September 30
October 1
October 2
October 4
October 6
 San Francisco
October 8
 Los Angeles
October 9
October 11
 Las Vegas
October 13
October 14
 Fort Lauderdale
October 15
October 21
 Mexico City

While the first part of San Francisco entry contains regular reviews, this one sports responses to Arthur Mathie's not-so-positive review. And although this discussion quickly distanced from San Francisco, the rewardingness of the discussion compensates for it.

You can find the original Arthur Mathie's review here.

Setlist | Reviews | Additional reviews
Additional reviews

Written by Arthur Mathie (Arthur.Mathie@nsc.com)

This review sparked this whole discussion, but is much too long to be duplicated in this page; you can read it by clicking here.

Written by George Carless (gcarless@pangeagroup.com) for Dominion mailing list

The principal problem has been that you think you're a much better writer than you actually are. If we're going to have to read through a rant of this nature, far better that it be well written. Unfortunately, the original posting was reminiscent of the worst of NME "journalism"; rife with supposedly "clever" references, tedious analogies and self-important nonsense. Criticism is well and good - I've been somewhat outspoken in my belief that too many people on this list are little Eldo-Clones - but there's a point where it becomes evident that the sole purpose of a post is an attempt to make its author look cool.

I wasn't at the show in question, so I can't say whether the particular show was decent - but if we go on the evidence of the rest of the tour, I think it's fair to say that the Sisters have (at last) been doing something a little different, a little more enjoyable, a little more fun. Fine, so you're not one to find everything the Sisters release brilliant purely because it's a Sisters release. I don't blame you. However, there's also a danger in deeming everything they release bad, having formed a particular opinion about their recent output, which seems to have been the case here. You're welcome to your opinion, but in telling all those who like the current style that they're "accepting anything", and insinuating that they're idiots, you deny their right to an opinion while proclaiming your own.

Besides -- come on: "nine years without an album verges on criminal"? Hello? Nobody owes you anything. Even if there were no difficulties with his releasing an album, there's no reason why he should have to. Equally, of course, you don't owe the band anything much. If you don't like it, don't buy into it. Just don't keep whining about it.

For what it's worth, I find the current Sisters incarnation the most perfect example of how they should be, at their best. It's pure charisma, attitude, charm, talent. The current line-up is the best I've seen in years - and I'm someone who prefers the older stuff to the likes of Vision Thing. Again, though, you don't "deserve" anything. If you don't feel that the Sisters are doing it for you, go find someone who will. I'm not trying to suggest that you don't have the right to your own opinions on the matter but, at the end of the day, a band should follow its own whims and not attempt to conform in order to keep its audience, or anyone else, happy.

Written by Ken Dysland (kdysland@rpbllp.com) for Dominion mailing list

Wow. After reading this review, I can't help but think "who the fuck cares?" Why would I care to read a review from someone who seems to hate every Sisters of Mercy song? Someone who wouldn't be happy unless he got to choose the setlist for Von to play at his birthday party, complete with a happy birthday blowjob afterward? Even though it probably took quite a while to fill this torrid review with all of its ultra-cool references, I wish people would try to find at least one positive thing to say. I don't usually pay $40+ for something I find so offensive...

Written by R. Logan Mirto (speedking23@hotmail.com) for Dominion mailing list

I'm all for telling it like it is, and if that's how you felt, great, but I'm curious: Why go at all if you don't want to see what the band is dishing out? This particular reviewer knew what to expect from the set list, and from the live show. If you don't dig it, why show up? To complain about the presence of/lack of new material, while keeping your fingers crossed for the pre-1985 favorites? I love the old material. I show up for the new material. Would I like to hear Walk Away live? Sure, but not if it bumps Romeo Down off the set list. If there's one thing I can't stand about this particular band's fan base, it's the folks who whine about the Sisters' days of old. Still waiting for that Hussey/ Eldritch Reunion? Still think Andy's gonna let Patricia back in the band? It's time to get off the bus.

Do me a favor Arf, next time stay home and spin your vinyl. Some of us are there to see the Sisters.

Written by Nick Jurun (njurun@u.washington.edu) for Dominion mailing list

Ahhh, because your well-defined and obviously superior tastes by far outstrip any we may have developed. How about we try this on for size...?

I came into The Sisters in the '90s. My first exposure was Some Girls Wander and my second was Vision Thing. Point A to point X in a very short period of time. I developed an impression of The Sisters not by means of chronology or tradition, but rather in one lump (3-4 month) experience. I don't base any of what I think of The Sisters off of what their "best" album was, or who left the band when. Before I knew who the hell Wayne Hussey was I preferred the second half of FALAA well over the first. I don't have an image of The Sisters as some of the best music in the sea of crap that the eighties could be. I just found a band that, once I started tuning out the eighties production values, appealed to me on a level that no other musical unit had before. Still the same way to this day.

I learned to love goth because I thought The Sisters were goth music, and they were what goth was all about. Then I started to know and understand the reality of goth (a fairly inevitable event when dealing with The Sisters on any in-depth level) and learned to dislike much of it... so much that it's more simple and to the point to say I dislike goth, period. (Much as I, as a thinking (not village) atheist realize that I'm technically agnostic because I can't disprove the existence of the metaphysical. I just insist on the atheist label because I find the odds of the metaphysical being a reality so absurdly small as to be irrelevant outside of specific philosophical conversations concerning the general issue of the metaphysical.) Just so, certain goths are inevitably reasonable human beings worth the time and effort, but they are the complete exception to the rule... seeming to be nearly a statistical anomaly to me.

Anyway, I'm rambling and you're dealing with it... but now I'm hitting my point. I approach The Sisters differently (though with no less fervor) than you do. I don't take a traditionalist approach. The Sisters weren't one of a few good things in my generation that made a remarkable difference to a fortunate few. I will admit that I am perhaps tainted by the nineties as others are by their times, but somehow I doubt that. I didn't get seriously into some hallmark nineties music until recently (NIN aside) and I've tried to avoid it to some degree, perhaps foolishly. I'm learning to embrace some of it, though... and I have few regrets. Again I'm rambling... The Sisters of Mercy aren't about Wayne Hussey, Patricia Morrison, or any of the other not-so-permanents of the time. They're about Andrew Eldritch, the Doktor, brilliant lyrics and music that I find compelling. The tunes that have hooked me the most to this day are the Eldritch penned ones. I remember the first time I started seriously looking at the songwriting credits on the albums and was surprised to see that my favorites consistently had the Eldritch name next to them. So, for a while The Sisters were about Andrew Eldritch to me... still are to an extent. However, we've all seen rumblings in the machine lately, and some things are starting to happen, albeit at a glacial pace. I was fortunate enough to have the money to go see The Sisters in San Francisco in the Event Horizon tour. I liked what I saw and heard. I was impressed by the raw power they had live, the way in which the live sound stripped the songs of any age-telling production and left them open and as they truly are, take it or leave it. Sure, I'd heard the boots... and I was even a little afraid because of the boots. I was never completely convinced the Sisters would be what I'd heard they were supposed to be as a live show. After that concert I never looked back. I know now that The Sisters of Mercy truly are a rock n' roll band. I know that their songs can live outside of their era, and I know that the music that is being written now, though not by Eldritch, maintains that same timelessness in a live atmosphere. With this in mind, I found it best to leave The Sisters in Eldritch's hands and keep my nose out. I've had few complaints so far, and I figure that Andrew Eldritch is certainly the most experienced man to run The Sisters. I trust him.

Most Sisters fans in the know are aware that Eldritch gets screeching boos and hisses from his fanbase with each album. There are the "early days" people, the "up to FALAA" people and so on. Somehow, though, The Sisters maintain an amazingly loyal fanbase to this day. People who know they'll hate them go to see them still. Frankly, I think it's the fact that Eldritch is an amazing and erudite entertainer, not to mention artist. I think it's because he writes songs that reach beyond the mere time in which they are written. Somehow he has created a work of art in the Sisters that is so compelling that it reaches out to those who are stuck in the throes of tradition and pulls them in for one more look. One last hope... unfortunately, those who think in terms of "the good 'ol days" are hard (at best) to communicate with, and I'm not surprised at what I see them say. (Wow, that phrase is certainly a product of E-mail.) It's sad, yes... but somehow I'm more taken by the fact that Eldritch keeps them coming back for more. It's just amazing...

Ultimately, my point here is that from my perspective The Sisters are doing just fine today. They are as healthy as I imagine they could be, and they're still doing amazing things. I believe that my perspective on this, while strongly subjective in the comparison to the general populace, is more objective than that of many of the Sisters fanatics who grew up with them. And while I find this sort of traditionalism to be crap and a one of the major reasons that the world fails to function well why should you give two flying fucks about what I say anyway... after all, while art is a significant expression of what it is to be uniquely human, and therefore of great importance, it is also not a matter that wars should necessarily be started over. Witness the idiocy of one Mayor Giuliani for an excellent example of this....

And I'm sorry if some of my furniture is home-assembly still, but not all of us are rich enough to afford nothing but the best. (And I know it's not necessarily literal, but your phrasing makes a literal interpretation unavoidable, which makes you seem quite the pompous ass.)

An aristocratic "you peons bow before my superiority" nature has been known to start many wars... and justifiably so. That is something to remember.

Written by Arthur Mathie (Arthur.Mathie@nsc.com) for Dominion mailing list

Some people appear all too ready to accept anything, no matter how bad, diluted or indifferent as long as it's stamped with a Merciful Release badge, not me. As a fan-base we have been sold short for many years. Some people find this particular trait of Eldritch's endearing, I don't. Nine years without an album verges on criminal. The new material showcased is weak and dated, merely familiar rewrites of older glories past and does not reflect the what this band should be about today. I believe that Von has the correct screenplay but the soundtrack is sadly lagging far behind. The set lists are stale, and the current band lacks the presence of older incarnations.

The Sisters of Mercy have become public domain, freeware if you like. The fanbase has continued to support Von throughout the years with very little in return. We deserve a better product. Music is Art and Art is product. Von should not have been worshipped as he was at The Warfied simply for turning up.

I cringe to use this line but "Why you gotta be so undemanding?"

My "fan credentials" are simple, I don't care if a song was written yesterday, tomorrow or the day after or by whom. I just want it to be good.

And so to end my final contribution to this little bun-fight. This lack of album / band issue reminds me of the old existence of God argument:

"I refuse to prove that I exist, says God, for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing" .


Written by Chris Sampson (Chris@cgs123.demon.co.uk) for Dominion mailing list

Nick Jurun:
> Ultimately, my point here is that from my perspective The Sisters are
> doing just fine today. They are as healthy as I imagine they could be,
> and they're still doing amazing things. I believe that my perspective on
> this, while strongly subjective in the comparison to the general populace,
> is more objective than that of many of the Sisters fanatics who grew up
> with them.

Whilst agreeing with much of Nick's message, I can't say that the current situation that the Sisters find themselves in is healthy. The war of attrition with EW was generally supported in these parts, but only as a means to an end: properly marketed and supported Sisters records. (I'm assuming it was only terminal cases like myself that enjoyed the corporate deadlock.) It's been 18 months since the contract was terminated, and the offered reasons for the immediate non-appearance of material, tenuous at the time, are now utterly obsolete. If the last 18 months haven't seen a new Sisters record - when the band had songs, time, label interest and some resemblence of career momentum (following Event Horizon and SSV) - then what's it gonna take? I don't know.

Meanwhile, again picking out the one section I don't agree with:

Arthur Mathie:
> The Sisters of Mercy have become public domain, freeware
> if you like. The fanbase has continued to support
> Von throughout the years with very little in return. We
> deserve a better product. Music is Art and Art is product.
> Von should not have been worshipped as he was at The
> Warfied simply for turning up.

Granted the level of bootleg abuse on this list may give the impression that the Sisters have become freeware, but The Sisters of Mercy are not our property. Apart from minority inputs from whoever the hired help is on any given day, Eldritch is in the driving seat: he's got financial responsibility for the band, he's the manager, he's the intellectual and artistic force behind the band. The Sisters do what Eldritch wants them to do. I think the 3 albums we got, and what the Sisters were doing in general between 1982 and 1992 took a massive effort and engendered a considerable amount of personal grief for Eldritch and others. They may never have been as productive as some, but to say we got "very little" is plainly incorrect. Quality more than made up for quantity. So, despite some reservations about failing to deliver a promised single without an adequate explanation, I would say Eldritch owes us nothing.

Eldritch clearly does not relish the hassle of releasing a new album: the arguments with the record company, crepuscular spats with music journalists, getting shouted at by floor managers on Top of the Pops, losing a huge pile of money touring the States with expensive and inadequate back-up, expensive videos that never get shown... Why should he bother when he seems happy enough running the Sisters as a part-time operation? He needs a damn good reason to do it, and that reason needs to be much better than a dubious claim that the fans "deserve it". Paradoxically, what is healthy for the Sisters and the Sisters' fans, is not necessarily healthy for Eldritch's peace of mind. That's the dilemma that has to be resolved.

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