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maani View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Church - 30th Anniversary
    Posted: April 23 2010 at 00:26
The Church: An Intimate Space
30th Anniversary Acoustic
City Winery - NYC
Thursday, April 22, 2010
 
It's hard to believe that The Church has been at it for three decades.  It seems like only yesterday that they went from being a very good rock and roll band to being a standard-bearer of progessive rock.  Over the course of 23+ albums, the band has never wavered from the unapologetic amalgam of its influences - The Beatles, The Byrds, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, U2 et al - channeled through its unique creative energy.  Using the uniquely solid foundation of Steve Kilbey's brilliant rock-poet lyrics, the band builds multi-layered, heavily-textured, atmospheric arrangements that run the gamut from the straight-gorgeous, to the trippy-opiated, to the aggressive-angry.
 
On two albums - El Momento Descuidado and El Momento Siguiente - the band offered stripped-down, "unplugged" version of many of its songs (plus a few new ones).
 
Using that idea as a jumping off point - and wanting to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a series of shows less frenetic than those on their regular tours - the band has undertaken an acoustic tour of  "intimate spaces."  And it is a true treat to see them in this fashion: loose, playful, truly having fun with both the material and the audience.
 
The band played one song per album, working backward from their most recent, Untitled #23.  Some songs were predictable, but many were not.  And some - particularly Invisible, My Little Problem, Mistress, 10,000 Miles Away, and Almost With You - really packed an emotional punch.  In all cases, the stripped down versions allowed both the brilliance of Steve Kilbey's lyrics and the brillance of the songwriting and arrangement to shine in a way that can be overpowered (though mostly appropriately and happily so!) by the multi-layered electric versions.
 
The set list (in order) was: Pangaea (Untitled #23), Space Needle (Uninvited Like the Clouds), Reptile (El Momento Siguiente), Ionian Bliss (Back with Two Beasts), El Momento Descuidado (title track), Appalatia (Forget Yourself), Invisible (After Everything Now This), Louisiana (Hologram of Baal), Comedown (Magician Among the Spirits), My Little Problem (Sometime Anywhere), Mistress (Priest=Aura), Metropolis (Gold Afternoon Fix), Under the Milky Way (Starfish), Already Yesterday (Heyday), 10,000 Miles Away (Remote Luxury), Fly (Seance), Almost With You (Blurred Crusade), and Tear It All Away (Of Skins and Heart).  They followed this with three encores: a fabulous cover of Smashing Pumpkins' The Killer In Me, a gripping version of Space Saviour (Untitled #23), and a heartfelt version of Grind (Gold Afternoon Fix).
 
As noted, the band was loose and playful, with lots of banter.  As well, they made use of lots of "references" - both lyrical and musical - to other bands and songs, including The Beatles (musically, Willson-Piper's subtle inclusion of the melody from Here Comes the Sun in one song; lyrically, Kilbey's tongue-in-cheek reference to You Know My Name in another) and Aerosmith (Kilbey's lift of lyrics from Dream On).  Of course, the "jig was up" when the intermission music turned out to be Side 1 of Abbey Road.
 
Based on their work from Priest=Aura forward, The Church has more than earned their place in the pantheon of great progressive bands.  They have nothing to prove to anyone.  They could pack it up and rest on their laurels, and we would be satisfied.  (Though THEY might not be!)  Instead, they follow a major tour for their latest album with this wonderful, "personal" acoustic tour to celebrate their anniversary.  That's real class.
 
And so I say: Steve, Marty, Peter, Tim - Happy Anniversary, and enjoy yourselves!  And thank you - sincerely - for the years of listening pleasure you have given to so many.
 
Peace.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2010 at 00:52
I also want to give a quick shout-out to my new prog friends: Jeremy, Angelique, Dannis, Nick and Zida!  Great to meet all of you!  (And to the two lovely ladies with whom I was sitting: I absent-mindedly forgot your names - Sorry!  But a shout-out to you as well!)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2010 at 20:43
I recently got into Church albums myself and was stunned that their music has changed from 'Almost With You' pop fair to the prog intricacy of Seance and beyond. I am listening to more of them now and still not quite sure whether I enjoy their style or not. It is growing on me slowly. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2010 at 12:08
Absolutely one of my favorite bands.

Going to see them in Raleigh, NC this Thursday.  Might even go see them the following night in Charlotte.

Thanks for the review - looking forward to this one.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 26 2010 at 11:20
Good to see you popping by MaaniBig smile
 
Whatever happened to that review of "Uninvited like the clouds" anyway?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 26 2010 at 22:03
EL:  Hey there, pal.  Hope all is well.  Yup, actually I have a couple (!) of reviews to compelte, don't I?  LOL.  I promise to get to them soon.  But first...my review of the NYC TransAtlantic show (hope to post Tues eve) and exclusive (and extensive) interviews with...Marty Willson-Piper (The Church) and James Labrie (Dream Theater).  And I will be interviewing at least one member of TransAtlantic (and maybe two) in the next couple of weeks.
 
So despite my absence, I have been VERY busy in the prog world, including for PA.
 
Peace.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 27 2010 at 02:51
Nice one Maani, good to hear your keeping busy. Looking forward to the reviews and interviews!Thumbs Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 27 2010 at 16:39
not a fan of the church (and never found of them as a prog band).

Add "metal" to the band name and you have a thrilling band which released two excellent albums in the eighties.
"Magma was the very first gothic rock band" (Didier Lockwood)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 30 2010 at 10:02
I saw the The Church 30th anniversary show in Annapolis, MD the other night. It was very good.  Having seen them last year at the same venue for the first time, I missed the atmospheric electric guitar elements which seems to be a key element of their sound a bit this time around, though the acoustic guitar work on this go round was very solid.  Kilbey also really chatted things up and established a good rapport with the audience throughout.

I'm not sure I get the references to the "Moody Blues" as an influence on their sound.  I need to think about that.  I am a big Moodies fan though and I do like The Churches sound as well, so I suppose there is something to it. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 30 2010 at 22:52
Mapman:
 
As one who has followed the Church's...progression from good rock band to progressive standard-bearer, I would say that the MBs were among the very first influences that helped "change" their sound.  Listen to Seance (which is a sort of one-off album - the albums before it were not prog at all, and the album after it was not either).  There is a subtle MB "flavor" that seeps into the overall sound.  And with Heyday, it really starts to be more noticeable (along with some Byrds and Floyd touches).  I will admit that, by Starfish, the influences of Floyd and others had taken precedence over the MB influence, though I believe it has always remained present.  And in my opinion, the opening of Priest=Aura (and some of the influence on the album as a whole) is about as MB as it gets.  LOL.  Peace.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 30 2010 at 22:54
They were in San Diego but I failed to go because that was the day of the 7.2 quake (and if you recall, I'm traumatized from surviving the 8.8 in Chile). My girlfriend and her friend went to the SF show and even got to go backstage and meet the band!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 01 2010 at 06:27
I ran into Peter Koppes as I was walking in to the Raleigh show - he was out at the bar talking with a few folks.

The show was fantastic BTW.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 02 2010 at 17:01
It was interesting at The Church concert in Annapolis this past Tuesday, Kilbey was seemingly feeling out the audience's level of familiarity or appreciation for Progressive Rock.  He alluded to PR and some PR acts and the lead guitarist even played the leads from "Roundabout" and "And You And I" to get  a reaction.  THe crowd was supportive but I gathered most there were 80's new wave fans and few were even aware of what prog rock means/is.   My friend and I were joking that the lead guitarist had a resemblance to Aqualung and should play that.
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