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The Church - NYC

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maani View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 18 2011 at 17:01

The Church

Wed., 2/16, Highline Ballroom, NYC

Thurs, 2/17, B.B. King’s, NYC

 

Following their successful, and unique, 30th Anniversary “unplugged” tour – in which they performed one song from each of their twenty-three albums, chronologically – The Church has undertaken yet another unique tour.  Called “Future-Past-Perfect,” it features the band (fully electric) playing three entire albums from three different decades.  Clocking in at almost four hours, it was almost certainly a grueling exercise for them.  But it was also a transcendental experience for their fans.

 

The concert began with their most recent album, Untitled #23 (2009).  With everything from the simple and beautiful to the radically progressive, this was a perfect way to start the evening.  This was followed by their 1992 tour-de-force, Priest=Aura – an album for which they did not tour.  (In fact, they did not play material from this album live in the U.S. until 1996.)  Referred to by many Church fans as their “Sgt. Pepper,” it was a true pleasure to hear this album live, particularly in its entirety, as it features some of the band’s lushest, most intense atmospheres (recreated perfectly live) and some of bassist/songwriter Steve Kilbey’s best song-poems.  At the 2/16 show, even the many fans who came mostly to hear the band play the third album on the bill, Starfish (1988), were stunned to silence by the strength of the material and the sheer power of the music and arrangements.

 

As noted, Starfish was delivered last, almost certainly because many (if not most) Church fans became such with the release of “Under the Milky Way,” the band’s biggest hit, and the band probably wanted to make sure that everyone stayed to the end.  (It worked.)  Nor did the band waver or tire: Starfish was delivered with the same energy and enthusiasm as the other two albums, as proved by the audience response after each song.  (And it is worth noting that they performed at the same energy level for four hours two nights in a row!)

 

Both shows were musically superb.  And the sound mix was remarkably good at both (if perhaps a touch better at the Highline).  The main difference seemed to be the lighting: at the Highline, the band had what amounted to a real light show, whereas the BBK show had sparse lighting.  In some ways, however, this was a positive; i.e., the show was essentially “stripped down” to the music, the lyrics, and the performance itself.  And The Church did not disappoint in either case.

 

In discussing the band and the show during the intermissions between albums, one of the most oft-heard comments was “This is such a great idea; they should do it again.”  I asked guitarist/songwriter Marty Willson-Piper about this before the BBK show.  He admitted it was a neat idea, but also noted that the amount of work that went into planning and performing the show was absolutely insane.  As he noted, “Who plays four-hour shows?”  Still, he seemed to be keeping the idea in the back of his mind.  (Hey, guys, keeping with your one-per-decade concept, let me suggest the next three: Heyday, Hologram of Baal, After Everything Now This.)  Also, according to Marty, the band is already hard at work on its next studio album.  (I suggested they call it Untitled #24.  Marty laughed and suggested (tongue firmly in cheek) that they simply keep using that format...)

 

As noted, the band was in fantastic form.  Marty was his usual flamboyant, effusive self (though there was somewhat “less” of him, as he has happily shed quite a few pounds).  Guitarist Peter Koppes was his usual reserved, but amazingly effective self.  As always, drummer Tim Powles provided the drive and backbone.  But it was Steve who made the greatest transformation, which has been occurring slowly but surely over the past three tours or so.  Formerly somewhat stiff and detached, he has become a bona fide presence: not only is he simply moving around more, but he has added elements of free-form movement and even “acting” into his performance. Indeed, in at least one case – The Disillusionist (from Priest=Aura) – his performance was so (wonderfully!) aggressive that even die-hard Church fans were (pleasantly) shocked.  (Also on board for the tour was Craig Wilson, a young multi-instrumentalist who really helped add that extra layer when necessary, particularly on keyboards.)

 

Since I am writing this on 2/18, there is only one more show left on the U.S. tour: Atlanta on 2/22 (The Variety Playhouse).  If you live in that area - run, don’t walk, to see this show.

 

[N.B.  For those in Australia, The Church will be doing a very special performance at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on April 10th, backed by a full orchestra.  It promises to be a unique evening, and a truly exceptional experience.]

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rushaholic View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rushaholic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 20 2011 at 11:37
Really been looking forward to this - will see them in Atlanta in 2 days.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote maani Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 20 2011 at 15:20
Enjoy!!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Easy Livin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2011 at 03:13
Nice write up MaaniClap, time to catch up on those reviews of their albums.Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote maani Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2011 at 16:56
EL:
 
Thanks for the kind words.  Re the reviews, I forgot where I left off!  But I am trying to get back to regular reviewing.  Have a few to do before the remainder of the Church oeuvre, but will get to them (I also didn't complete my reviews of 10CC!).  Also have to post my reviews with Marty Willson-Piper and James Labrie.  Hope to post the first one late this week or over the weekend.
 
Thanks for the gentle kick in the pants!  LOL.
 
Peace.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote salma66 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 08 2011 at 01:26
I was there!!! Thumbs Up



Edited by salma66 - June 24 2013 at 07:45
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