Concert Review: The Church – Showbox, April 9th 2010

After everything, now this! It’s the 30th Anniversary of The Church! (It’s not a religion, it’s just a technique) Hard to believe on some levels, but then again, it’s been so long since I’ve been without them. Thankfully. To celebrate, the band has invited us to the party. Specifically, they are currently touring the US semi-acoustically. The shows, dubbed “An Intimate Space“, are just that. If you are the gal who remembers The Church song ‘Under The Milky Way‘ from her dorm-room days and you want to drag your sugar-daddy to the show, i fear that you will be dreadfully disappointed (but go anyway). If you are, like me, a massive fan who knows ALL the songs and has ALL the albums, then do not miss this tour!

It’s a sit-down affair, with anecdotes, good-natured jabs and friendly banter between band-members before and after each song. Not only that, but The Church are playing 1 song from every official release in reverse chronological order, and with 1 obvious exception, it’s tough to figure out what is coming next. If that weren’t enough, every ticket holder gets a free program and the exclusive new ‘Dead Man’s Hand E.P.

That was the setup, now for the review…

The show starts off great without a note being plucked for there was no opening act to trudge through. The lights dimmed, the band entered. That simple, that quick, that lovely. A few hello-how-ya-doin’s in order, then the music launches. I will not list the song-list here, as i know some people like to be surprised, but i will say this is NOT a run through the singles.

photo taken with my Hipstamatic

The song ends, people clap & cheer, singer-bassist Steve Kilbey begins to tell a story and some schmuck yells “Come On” from the crowd. Steve asks indignantly, “did you say ‘come on’?”. He his visibly annoyed, but he steps off the mic and composes himself. That’s when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper chimes in with “you’ve been going to too many KISS shows”. In most cities, that would be enough to shut the guy up, but Seattle is a different beast. This guy goes on the interrupt and heckle a bit longer before security puts him out of our misery. I wish security could have done something about the drunk girl behind me, but she would not ruin the show for me, and this guy did not ruin the show for the band.

The boys are pros, i mean, it IS the 30th Anniversary! The music continues and so does the fun. The band are in great form, and although not every song works stripped down like this, most do and a few are even better for it. After 10 songs from the albums ‘Untitled #23‘ thru ‘Sometime Anywhere‘ the band leave for a short intermission allowing the crowd the stand, stretch, grab a drink or whatever else they need to do. The lights dim again and the band return for songs from ‘Priest=Aura‘ thru to ‘Of Skins And Heart‘.

Of course there’s an encore! SPOILER ALERT! Steve steps up to the mic and talks about someone showing him a YouTube clip of Smashing Pumpkins covering “Reptile” live.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcmLveEXfA4]

So the band would like to return the favor. There are some cheers and a few jeers before Marty quips, “Hey, at least it’s not Pearl Jam’ and i am immediately grateful for the Pumpkins!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9njDlY5MOxc]

One more song, then off only to be called up yet again for the last song of the night. Then, houselights up, people out.

I’ve seen this band a number of times over the decades, and I’ve seen tons of other shows as well, but this was the most unique “rock band” show I’ve ever seen. The band was great, the company was great and it was a truly intimate night with one of my all-time favorite bands. The musicianship is stellar, with each member branching out and swapping instruments. Peter Koppes in particular was inspiring to watch. For a tall man, he gracefully breezes around playing guitar, mandolin and piano, as well as singing lead on one song and backups on most others. However, The Church’s secret weapon is kept at the back in the shape of Tim Powles. Still the “new guy” with 15 years in the band, i suddenly had the realization that the reason there IS a 30th Anniversary for this band is because of his tireless efforts over the years. While the band never actually broke up, they were down to just Steve & Marty at one point.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGF5DlPvyhU]

Tim comes on and does double duty as drummer and producer, and i suspect mediator? A fine musician in his own right, he bounces between drums and the piano, singing backups and holding it all together.

So thank you boys for a wonderful evening and i’ll see you again soon i’m sure…

Tony
Media Producer
PlayNetwork, Inc.

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