Friday, July 10, 2009

I never dreamed we'd meet here once more

The Church. July 8th, 2009 - Irving Plaza NYC.

My cousin called a few months back to let me know that The Church would be hitting New York in the near future and that our attendance to said show was essentially imperative. I agreed and although we almost blew it and missed it, he came through a few weeks back and the tickets were secured without any issues.

We arrived pretty much on time and ended up waiting in a small line for the doors to open. The crowd was comprised largely of older strung-out new wavers and ex-gothers but there was a presence of younger "hip" kids (Chameleons shirts, shoulder bags) as well as what appeared to be an "intellectual" crowd (turtleneck wearing nerds... to make it plain and simple). We got inside and my cousin eyed up the merchandise table and instantly raided it. Rare imported and OOP singles, amazingly obscure Priest=Aura and Seance tees as well as autographed copies of their latest gem Untitled #23 were just a few items the band was offering. He bought The Church tote bag and packed it with as much stuff as he needed and even some prints of front man Steve Kilbey's neo-psychedelic artwork. We hung around for a little bit as the theater became congested and then act one of two took the stage: Adam Franklin and the Bolts of Melody.

As a fan of Adam's legendary band Swervedriver, I was souped to see him and his new project. I'm a huge fan of the work he did with Swervedriver when the band was on Creation Records, but can't say the same for the later commercial releases. Something just changed in the early nineties that screams "boring and contrived" to me. I was a bit prejudice with the Bolts, and figured they would be a crummy watered-down facsimile of the later swervedriver material, but that ended up being only a half-correct assumption. Adam Franklin and the Bolts of Melody were good, but just good. They were definitely more shoegazy and atmospheric than the commercial releases of later Swervedriver, but there was still an occasional revisit to that undesirable later sound. His lyrics seemed half-hearted and banal, and the rest of the band rocked, but seemed as if they were just along for the ride.

It felt like we were subjected to the same tired mix of songs over the PA about ten times between the time the Bolts left the stage and The Church took it. Once the curtain went up and the boys appeared before us, it was instant ecstasy. They opened with "Tantalized", a heartfelt rock song from their 1986 album Heyday. Steve Kilbey was energetic and full of entertaining banter, Peter Koppes was back on guitar for this tour and shredding, I mean shredding on his Stratocaster. The newest member, Tim Powles kept it going strong on drums, and then there was Marty Willson-Piper. Holy shit. Now it's understood that this band has been around for some time now, and they really haven't had a hit in the states in almost 30 years, but time has done some strange things to this man. You can forget his clean cut pretty boy image that he maintained throughout the eighties - this man looked incredibly insane and I loved it. Dirty, baggy work clothes, long grey hair in a pony tail, and a straight-up Charles Manson beard. I took one look at him and thought: "this man goes home every night, guzzles a six pack and smokes the world's largest joint". It was an unreal sight to see him display his epic guitar skills in what could almost pass as a costume.

Their set was long and satisfying. The band jumped around from newer to older songs and then they played a song that changed the night for me. It was "Almost With You", from their rare (and import only) second record, The Blurred Crusade. The song fit my evening perfectly and assisted me in sinking deeper into a comfortably sad yet exciting realm. The rest of the show was wonderful, and even though they pulled the dreaded double encore, their sensational performance was enough to achieve my forgiveness. I just wish I got to hear
"The Unguarded Moment"," One Day", "Electric", "No Explanation" and oh so many more.... but they played for over an hour and a half so I can't really complain.

Day 5
North South East and West
After Everything
Almost With You
A Month of Sundays
Deadman's Hand
You Took
Under the Milky Way

Encore 1:
An Interlude
Space Saviour

Encore 2:
Hotel Womb


Mr. Lin said...

What a night! It was so exciting to see one of my favorite bands after years of fearing they'd call it quits early and never make it back to the US again. I felt Steve Kilbey was the star of the show, my favorite moment was when they came out for an encore, Steve was first, and although it was obvious the rest of the band were on their way, Steve said: "I'm going to play a bass solo." He played some deliberately crappy bass lines followed by a cliche rock star kick in the air, it was hilarious. I knew he was eccentric, but watching him perform in person, man, he's out there.

My only gripe is that they didn't play a single song off Priest=Aura, and I jokingly yelled for them to play "The Disillusionist" knowing it would never happen. Lots of energy from the band though, and I liked the good "come as you are" vibe, there was a minimal number of hipsters and too-cool kids, and a lot of older people. This was easily one of the most enjoyable shows I've seen, plus I got my hands on the Tin Mine CD, the Pangaea EP, and the exquisite El Momento Siguiente. I hope they come back with another outstanding album in a few years.

Jeffo said...

How could I have forgotten to mention the bass solo!!! That was hilarious. Good times!