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Review of House of Blues show April 6 2002, Hollywood CA Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 April 2002

Originally found at

Nice review and good original pictures too. Reproduced by kind permission of

The Church

April 6, 2002
House of Blues - Sunset Strip
West Hollywood, CA

2002 has been a year of musical abundance for Church fans. The band stopped by the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip last Saturday night in support of their excellent new album "After Everything Now This" and did not disappoint the full house. Judging from messages on the fan mailing list, many had traveled from great distances to catch the Australian band's west coast performances.

Steve Kilbey (lead vocals, bass, guitar) was in his best form (I've seen four Church shows) and appeared to be enjoying playing more than ever. I read that the primarily acoustic nature of the show was to create a quieter sound, and the result yielded a much stronger vocal performance than previous tours. His musicianship was excellent and his demeanor meditative and often humorous throughout.

Marty Wilson-Piper (guitars, bass) was a "jack of all trades" playing a 6 string acoustic Gibson early in the set, switching to a 12-string acoustic for the bulk of the show, playing an electric Fender towards the end of the set, and playing bass on a couple numbers including the 11 minute "Magician Among the Spirits," to great effect. He also sang lead on the new song "Chromium," and provided excellent backing vocals. Sitting, standing, striking, soloing; his diversity was well served.

Peter Koppes (pronounced cop-pez; guitar) was a stationary figure, sitting and playing a six string acoustic for the entire show. His use (and Kilbey's on MATS) of an e-bow, an electronic bow device that reverberates guitar notes by placing a beam of light over the strings, was very effective, including the "bagpipe" solo of "Milky Way." He added lead vocals on "A New Season," from the breakthrough album "Starfish," to much audience acclaim. The audience was especially in Koppes corner for this show, possibly because Wilson-Piper has received so much attention for his guitar heroics. Koppes is equally acclaimed and proves to be a complete complement in the studio and live show.

Tim Powles (pronounced "Polls", a reference to his sir name; drums) minimalist drum kit was used to great effect. The kit was composed of a traditional bass drum, tom, snare, and cymbals along with a second virtual kick pedal and a couple of V-drums (electronic percussion) that was used to very cool effect. Tim used a variety of shakers and unorthodox playing styles (playing cymbals with tambourines, the floor bass drum with a pulsating stick) to recreate the studio heavy Church sound. His style is very musical as opposed to a straight percussive approach.

Ancillary keyboardist David Lane filled out the band providing much texture, especially on the new piano-tickled material.

Highlights of the set were the opener "Radiance," the beautiful "Tranquility," set closing "Metropolis," and the three encores. A new bluesy treatment of "Electric Lash," one of the older hits, seemed to puzzle the audience who have become accustomed to the band reproducing their complex sound live.

A humorous moment came when Kilbey joked about playing "Reptile" after a false start. This was in reference to the 1999 retiring of the hit song on the same House of Blues stage. During that concert, he had started his portion of the song with the wrong bass note, but couldn't tell because of the stage volume. Wilson-Piper stopped the song and Kilbey was really annoyed. He exclaimed "I hate that f*cking song anyway" and the song has not been played since (including then). It has obviously been a source of band teasing.

Steve seemed in great spirits even striking a playful contemplative pose (to much laughter) during the start of "Night Friends." Kilbey called a heckling fan "Ted Nugent," (Church shows always tend to have idiots screaming out the most obscure song from 20 years ago), and did his traditional dismissals of crazy fan requests.

The detuning of instruments at the conclusion of the rocking "Constant in Opal" was a humorous and effective way to thwart additional encores.

This is not a band that relies much on their back catalog, instead focusing primarily on the groundbreaking work of the last half of their career (1990 forward). Each show I have seen in the span of 7 years has had a dramatically different set list. They embrace obscure album tracks and difficult epic songs, holding the audience at complete attention. The musicianship is always excellent, a guitar and songwriting clinic that is clich? free.

The band seems more comfortable with their art than ever before and the unity of the individualistic artists has never been stronger. Strong material helps and the performance proves that their legacy, integrity and relevance are intact.

- Tom

P.S. There will be new pictures of the performance added to this review every few days for the next few weeks. Please check back for a review and photos of opening act Mark Kozelek (from the Red House Painters).

Set List:

Song For the Asking
Under The Milky Way
After Everything
A New Season
Night Friends
Electric Lash
Swan Lake

Encore 1
Magician Among the Spirits

Encore 2
Hotel Womb
Constant In Opal

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