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inspectorjason saw the band after sixteen years of waiting. Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 March 2004
Originally published at
The Church @ Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA on 3/3/04
After sixteen years of listening to The Church, I finally had the opportunity to see the band in concert last night. I'm on cloud nine right now, because I've finally seen a band that I've been wanting to see perform live for a long time and because The Church put on a show that went above and beyond my high expectations.

I don't remember the exact order of the setlist, but the songs played are as follows:

Nothing Seeker
The Theatre And Its Double
Under The Milky Way
See Your Lights
Song In Space

First Encore:

Second Encore:
You Took

The setlist drew heavily from the latest Church album, Forget Yourself, and this was actually a blessing. Forget Yourself is easily the best new album that I've purchased in over a year. Had the album been released in 2003, it would have earned the number one spot on my year's end list. As it stands, though, The Church - Forget Yourself is the first great album of 2004 and a near-impossible standard for the upcoming releases of this year to measure up to. I know that it probably seems like more of the same for me to be endorsing yet another new album from a known 80's alternative band, but Forget Yourself really is one to pay heed to. After a decade of album releases that, while excellent for the most part, simply seemed to copy the signature sound that the band perfected in the 80's, The Church has embraced a more lo-fi album production for Forget Yourself, making this the most raw recording that they have released to date; the less-than-polished production enhances The Church's trademark of sparse dueling guitar melodies and invigorates it with a new approach. Songs like "Sealine" and the aptly-titled "Song In Space" have a shoegazer sound to them that I never would have expected of this band. This is the best Church album since their 1988 release, Starfish.

The songs from Forget Yourself differed somewhat in their onstage incarnation because the dueling guitars of Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes were more prominent in clarity, making these new songs sound closer to the more crystal-clear Church material from Heyday, Starfish, and their other early albums (with the exception of the opening number, "Sealine", that made The Church sound more like My Bloody Valentine than ever). I always enjoy hearing live interpretations of songs from good bands that bring out their onstage strengths to make a sound slightly altered from the studio version of the track. In a surprising move for a first encore, The Church played "Cantilever", a track from the bonus disc on the limited edition of Forget Yourself, and added more guitar melodies to this spacey song to flesh it out and give it a more immediate edge that has always characterized the best Church material. Steve Kilbey's always foreboding and authoritative vocals carried over well onstage; Peter Koppes and Marty Wilson-Piper both sang lead on a couple of tracks and current drummer Tim Powles occasionally contributed backup vocals. The songs from an already superb album sounded even better live.

In addition to the new songs, The Church played three tracks from their 2002 album, After Everything Now This, three tracks from Starfish, two tracks from the amazing 1985 album, Heyday, and, most unexpectedly, one of my favorite Church songs, "You Took", an eight-minute track from the band's second album, The Blurred Crusade.

Strangely enough, I was listening to "You Took" earlier yesterday while driving home from work and thinking to myself that The Church would not play such an obscure older track, but that it would be great if they did. By playing "Myrrh" (from Heyday) and "You Took" for the final encore, The Church gave me something that I'll remember for a long time. I think that they must have read my mind and played those two tracks just for me.

Before anyone asks, the answer is yes..."Under The Milky Way" does sound much better in concert.

As if The Church performance was not already memorable enough, I was treated to an impressive opening show from one of my favorite local Atlanta bands, The Sight-Seers. The Sight-Seers played a set of jangly guitar rockers in the same vein as the 80's I.R.S. material from R.E.M. It's good to see that some musical influences are still ongoing.

What a great night...
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