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Reviews of Steve @ Borderline April 25th 1998 Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 April 1998

Steve Kilbey at The Borderline

April 25th 1998

Here are the reviews I've been sent of this performance; if you were there please write to me and add your thoughts ! Did anybody take photographs ?

Tony Holdway
When I rang up to purchase the tickets for Steve Kilbey's gig at the Borderline, little did I know I would be invited along with about 100 other people into his front room - so to speak. We came in, we plumped up our cushions, and helped ourselves to 28 of his varying songs. Steve invited us to suggest his set-list and even on occasion to finish the songs off for him ! Indeed, many tracks were cut short by his bizarre boredom with finishing them off, many were halted due to last verses forgotten. Most memorable was Steve cutting short 'Tristesse" when we started singing Marty's backing vocals on the middle section. "It took me 10 years to stop Marty from doing that !" he said. "And he still does it when he thinks I'm not listening!"

I will remember this gig for ever for its amazing personal touch. Steve's relaxed, in between song, sense of humour was on top form as he did Swedish intros, chucked in top quips, played 'You 'Aint Seen Nothing Yet,' played the odd request and generally was about as relaxed as they come.

The set list in full - Providence, Life's Little Luxuries, Is That So, Tristesse, Into My Hands, Othertime, Caroline ?(Lou Reed), My Little Problem, 'September 3rd'?, An Arrangement, Fireman, Old Flame, Limbo, Civil War Lament, Buffalo (new album), 'I inch rock'- T Rex, Thought That I Was Over You, Mistress, Fly, Goliath with Song of Solomon, Almost With You, Comedown, Hotel Womb, Night Is Very Soft, Milky Way, Lost, Myrrh. Shouts for Ripple, Aviatrix and many others were unfortunately to no avail, due to the constraints of time and a 12 string acoustic guitar.

Having been to the Dublin gig in January, I would have to say that this was quite a different experience; just as good, less frenetic, with Steve's 12 string guitar playing first class, even without the backup of Marty. The small but perfectly formed audience was littered with Church fans that lapped up every minute.

I met Steve after the gig in Dublin, and whilst signing Narcosis +, he asked me my favourite tracks; my Guinness-soaked brain struggled to answer. If he's reading this - it's the middle three of Fall In Love, Space & Egyptian that do it for me. I didn't get to talk to him last night and finish off the conversation?..Still what an exhibition spanning the many years of musical brilliance this was.

Less of a musical feast - more of a tasty buffet !

Andy Voyez
A genius verging on madness.
I think he managed to do most of my favourites - and even managed to finish some of them! That was the tone of the evening, as he was trying to do the songs with just one acoustic guitar after all. Having written so many songs it must be difficult to remember all of them and the audience was occasionally asked for the next line - or maybe it was just a test!

The evening became a free for all with everyone shouting out song titles. Steve played on this for most of the night, making puns out of them or giving comments like 'Yeah, that would be nice..' Indeed, the first thing he said was 'I don't know what I'm going to play tonight, so shout out some songs and I'll pretend it's a request show!'

The most notable comment was that there will be a new Church album! And he played a song from it!! (Buffalo)

The funniest moment was during 'Almost With You' when, to a man, the audience did the 'Ah, Ah, Oh' bit during the first verse. Steve stopped and said 'It's taken me 10 years to stop Marty from doing that and he still tries it when he thinks I'm not looking!' When the bit came in the next verse, no-one sang it and it was all too much for Steve ! He cut the song short as we were 'putting him off' !

What more can I say? The man came over very well and it was a superb evening's entertainment. I hope I don't have to wait another 18 years before seeing him again!

Marco Bongiovanni
I have to say that Steve?s gig in London was such a treat for me. I aspecially enjoyed othertime and limbo and of course hearing the new track buffalo. The first time, this being the second, I saw church( ie Marty and Steve) it was in Stockholm about three years ago. My expectations was unreasonobly high. And when my favorite songs didn?t sound like they always had (on the albums) i was so dissapointed. Adding to that that in a swedish audience some of the jokes and hints made by Marty and Steve never came across or didn?t translate, the atmosphere could have been higher. I did cheer up afterwords though when I could come backstage for a beer and a little chat :).

This time around, with realistic expectations;), I could lay back and enjoy whatever happened. I didn't mind Steve not finishing songs, the fact that my favorite wasn?t played and that we weren?t giggled with little anecdotes from his life. To me he came across as guy who doesn?t take himself or his work too seriously. It was a very familyish show and great to be a part of. I mean he?s not a guitar player and a lot of the songs can?t even translate acousticly or even benefit from it. So what, thanks to Trevor, he came, gave us the songs we love and the atmosphere at Borderline was high - what more can one ask?. I mean how many recording artists would treat their fans with those circumstances?

One thing really pissed me of though. The Swedes(I?m a Swede myself just so you don?t think this a ethnic thingy) in the back right corner, you know who you are, who insisted that Steve would speak swedish. Up until that point Steve had been mentioning an encore but it was easy to see that this pissed him off. And the words you used, why you wanna say that???!!! Did you came that way and spend those money just to be rude? I agree that closing the place so quick just to reopen as a disco really took away the feeling [Brian: The show had to stop at 10:30 because the venue becomes a disco later in the night]. Not that Steve would stick around all night to dwell amongst his fans or anything but the concert came to such an abrupt end. I would have liked to stick around for while, to land in a way, and to meet some of you guys.

Nancy asked for details, details and more details, so Adam obliged.
> Thanks so far to those who've written about the big night in London.
> But... come on, some of you must have shelled out hundreds to see this
> thing, and we poor slobs have to eat the crumbs! ;)   Who's going to write
> the blow-by-blow description of the evening?  All the intersong banter,
> etc.?  Does Steve introduce the songs?  Talk about his kids?  Say zippo,
> but just smile?  I want all the gory details.  What'd he wear?  How'd he
> look?  Could you tell from his singing if the ear problem is bothering
> him a lot now?  What was Robert Lurie's music like?  Give us the
> figurative full Monty, please!
well, i did shell out a few hundred, but i still can't buy my memory cells back... let's see, here's what i can remember of your particular questions.

intersong banter was few and some of it was swedish. wasn't anything particularly interesting, except for a line in a jack frost song. when the line, 'someone's hand was up your dress'. steve stopped and said, 'um, that's grant's line, not mine.' that got a few giggles.

he introduced 'goliath' as a 'religious song' i believe. not many intros overall. correct me if i'm wrong. didn't say anything about his kids. i noticed he stared directly towards the back center of the room, over everybody's heads until about 15 or 20 minutes in. maybe stage nerves. the sound was good, i have a bum left ear that rattles when music reaches a certain uncomfortable level, but i don't recall that ever happening, so i think the sound level had to be good for steve too. roberts music was a lot like steve's with an american bent on it, if you can imagine that. i'm not gonna compare them any further than that, and it's all personal preference anyway eh?

what was steve wearing? god, i couldn't tell ya, but he was sporting a remindlessness beard and looked good i thought. i saw him in 1990 last and he didn't look more than a few months older than that. could have been the limelight though :)

hope that's a bigger crumb for you to chew on.

anyone else wanna elaborate more?

Tony Holdway added
clothes - the same black corduroy / velvety shirt that he wore in Dublin, with light coloured trousers
Just wanted to give you my impressions of the gig, for those not there. if you?ve been to london, the gig was in the soho section which is fairly central and very happening, imo. the borderline was down a narrow road and tucked behind a row of shops(the guitar shop someone mentioned was closed though). I was very surprised to see at least 30-40 people waiting outside very early on. I wanted to yell out some names, but restrained myself. I went with the friend I stayed with and his girlfriend. they had never heard of steve or the church. I kept telling them that he was ?world famous?, which steve later unknowingly made a call-back to during the show. it was quite funny actually. it was a very charming venue overall. filled in quick. the intensity was fairly tangible. trevor was busily selling nsew (picked one up, thank you trev) with his lovely assistant( I agree kev). the stage looked as if it should have had a chicken-wire fence to protect the acts. instead, the sound man had one. it sounded good, so we let him live.

i?m not one to remember each track as they were, but steve?s selections were excellent. my personal faves were: othertime, tristesse, hotel womb, goliath, nonapology, buffalo(new one), and limbo.

steve?s mike stand was in a shite state of affairs throughout the show as it kept sinking down. but, as always steve?s humor was right on cue. I yelled for ?guilty? a few times, but to no avail. he seemed to like that suggestion 8 years ago, what gives? he probably liked americans better then. so steve was talking about something and he mentions to the crowd that he is a legend and repeats this in french. he was being sarcastic as I was earlier, so it was all in good fun to my friends.

at any rate, my only complaint was that it was too short and for what, disco? I?ve killed for less. I left right after the show, as we were on our way to a party, so I didn?t get to meet steve, but to me this is ok. as in the russel [Kilbey] article in nsew, I don?t want to get too close to the people I consider brilliant, they could never live up and I don?t expect them to. but in steves music, he lives up and then some. i?m anxiously awaiting the new album, as are my two newly converted friends. i'll probably be trying to collect 2 more versions of all there albums soon, so help me please. ?top-notch? was their response and they were ever so correct... top-notch stuff and a night to be remembered if not repeated.

oops, forgot to mention something trivial.

i was at the redback tavern somewhere in london. anyway, it's an aussie bar. where was steve ? they had a cover singer and he was doing all the usual australian tunes. i thought for sure that he would play the church at least, but no. then there was a cover band, did they play the church? no.

to top all that, i was talking with several of the ladies(yeah baby) and not one of them even heard of the church!? yes, they were from australia. i told them steve was performing at the borderline, 'cause they seemed interested there was an australian performer playing in london, but it was disheartening overall.

Tony recounts the set list
The set list in full from Saturday night - Providence, Life's Little Luxuries, Is That So, Tristesse, Into My Hands, Othertime, Caroline ?(Lou Reed), My Little Problem, September 13th, An Arrangement, Fireman, Old Flame, Limbo, Civil War Lament, Buffalo (new album), One-Inch Rock;- T Rex, Thought That I Was Over You, Mistress, Fly, Goliath with Song of Solomon, Almost With You, Comedown, Hotel Womb, Night Is Very Soft, Milky Way, Lost, Myrrh. Shouts for Ripple, Aviatrix and many others were unfortunately to no avail, due to the constraints of time and a 12 string acoustic guitar.

Almost with you, Limbo and Buffalo were particular highlights for me - everyone whos mentioned the fluidity and relaxedness of the gig has got it spot on - its what Steve would be wanting us to write in that that was the atmosphere he was trying to create

Anne Ward
I think, like many people, the informality and quite "casual" feel to the evening is what makes Steve's solos distinct from a Steve/Marty gig. I'd heard tapes of solo performances before, so had an idea what to expect, and as my brother (the other Nick Ward) remarked on Saturday it was more like "an audience with Steve Kilbey".

It was a shame about the lack of an encore, but the entertainment, musical and witticisms, more than made up for this. Fair enough, many of the songs were only partly performed, but the rendition of Lembo was amazing - full of feeling! And any gig that starts with Providence and ends with Lost has to be something special.

Thanks, Trevor, for making this happen, and thanks to Steve for being there and making us happy!

May there be many more Kilbey/Church gigs - hopefully accessible to more Seancers too.

Adam's first report
this is what 'live' is about. the music is there and then it is gone. the ultimate performer/audience feedback. when there's energy to a performance, even a song and when one or the other isn't feeling the feedback. maybe on a few tunes, steve wasn't feeling it. it's complete honesty to stop.

i saw him in nyc at the knitting factory in 90 and it was the same, although they let him play for over 2 hours and many encores. none here, very bad.

i was very encouraged to see a full crowd like that, who for the most part, really were in synch with steve. some tosser yelled out 'unguarded moment' and i almost had the inclination to sack him for it. many more people than in 90 in nyc! i think it says something about the internet and the efforts of trevor. cheers trevor. of course, i'm sure we could all house steve on a tour of the u.s., but come on, would you stay with one of your fans? 'oh steve, can i clip your toe nails for you?'

i do have a pretty good connection with a local philly venue and ticketmaster. if philly is good enough for spinal tap, then bring us steve.

Kevyn Marshall
I'd heard tapes of Steve's solo gigs before so I knew pretty much what to expect and wasn't disappointed. The only bad thing was that everyone had to be out of the venue by 10:30 pm as there was a disco thing on afterwards.

The gig was sold out, I guess the place holds about 400. Hopefully it'll encourage him to come back soon. If you've got tapes of other SK shows it was the usual sort of set, mainly requests, I'm sure someone will post the full list of songs. Robert Lurie (a seancer from the US) was the support act, I guess we'll hear from him what he thought of the experience when he gets back.

I was surprised to see Steve smoking (tobacco) after his previous comments about cigarettes. The first thing he said to me after the soundcheck was "have you got a cigarette ?", the second thing was "where's my money?" (from the demo tape). After the soundcheck, about 16 of us went along with Steve to an Indian restaurant (you want all these details don't you ? it's what seance is all about). Back to the gig...... there was a stall where Trevor was selling copies of all issues of his fanzine NSEW (still available - see Shadow Cabinet for details), Michael was selling copies of his fanzine The Maven (issue 7 out soon - again see Shadow Cabinet), and the good looking one was selling copies of his latest masterpiece: The Church - Microfish (Discography 1980-98) which incidentally is now available from

Kevyn Marshall
14 Spode Walk
London NW6 1XS
Payment details - UK/Europe 2 pounds and 50 pence
USA 6 US dollars
Australia 7 Aus dollars

If you want to buy more than one copy, I'll do them a bit cheaper. If you've contributed a lot towards the discography I'll be sending a free copy. It's an A5 sized booklet, 48 pages, lots of pictures of the record sleeves and a must-have for all Church collectors.

Joseph Burns
well I returned to the States today from my london jaunt to catch Sk's gig... and I feel greatly enriched by the whole thing. Wouldn't have missed it and would go back over for another one 'in a heartbeat'.

I thought it was a great chance to see Steve perform in an intimate setting... mistakes and aborted songs included, it was an amazing chance to see a performer who often keeps his personality quite guarded as a 'rock star', relax because he knew he was in a room full of people who appreciated his work and he didn't have to win over any converts or impress any journalists...

It was a strange feeling too, being so far away from home, crowdedinto this timy cellar with a couple hundred strangers, who I somehow felt a strange sorta kinship with even though I never spoke to most of you. There were these strange moments of eye contact with other folks in the crowd, where I knew that I wasn't the only one out here that's been touched deeply by Steve's music. And stranger still to know that I was probably rubbing elbows and shoulders with folks who I knew and talked with regularly here on seance but yet, when we shared the same _real_ space instead of this virtual one, the connection was completely intangible. There were many of you I'd have like to have met, but the crowd was much bigger than I had imagined it would be, and the planning was a little botched I suppose... I guess I'm waxing a little bit sentimental here, but it was a strange sense of connection...

All that said, Steve was fantastic. Who else can you go see who will entertain all your heckling and requests for songs that in some cases are over 10 years old, and he'll try to oblige you?! And what other show could you be at where the crowd listens in silence to every word/strum until Steve forgets a line and asks for help and instantly everyone in the crowd can tell hiim what the next line is?! That's pretty amazing to me. And I hope Steve realises how much this shows that his music has _really_ touched some people.

I guess a lot of folks won't understand my crossing the ocean to see this little one off show (actually the customs agents on both legs of the journey were especially suspicious of me! - and all my friends think I'm a complete nutter for it)... but it was really something special for me.

The one line that kept returning to me all night as I walked back through Soho to my hotel was: 'Close to you, hear all you say, even though you're continents away' seems a fitting epilogue to the trip.

Anyway, that's about all for my report. Except, Trevor, since you arranged this little shin dig, tell Steve that there are those of us in the states that could _easily_ get him the same type of gig over here... just say when!

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