San Diego, Belly Up

September 18th 1998

Onstage at Belly Up Marty crosses his fingers for luck in the first rendition of Louisiana !stevenps.jpg - 5490 Bytes

Pictures by BM, Jax, John

In a word - AMAZING! One of the best live shows I have ever seen.

I arrived at the Belly Up, a club just north of San Diego with a capacity of about 500, to find several fellow Seancers, including Lars, Jeff, Matt, and several others sitting around talking about HOB and speculating as to what the opening song might be (as it turns out, none of us were right). The club was completely packed.

After the opening act, a Cranberries-esque band called "Six Pence and None the Richer", the Church made there way to the stage at about 5 minutes to 11:00. What follows is the set list, my thoughts of the song, and any comments that Steve might have made, although he wasn't particularly talkative during the set. He seemed to be enjoying playing too much for mid-song banter. Forgive the sloppy grammar, redundancy, etc. It's 2:20 a.m. as I write this.

Stevemartys.jpg - 2332 Bytes 1. Aura - This completely took me by surprise. The song was a great starter although Marty's guitar seemed to be a little muffled in the mix. The corrected it mid-song and he did an extended guitar solo where he was just shredding the strings. Great opener.

2. Myrrh - They went right into this one and it was superb. I was surprised at how many of the So. Cal. audience seemed to be really into this one, given that most people around hear barely know UTMW.

Steve2s.jpg - 2790 Bytes 3. An Interlude - I had never heard this one live and it was far greater than I could have imagined. It gave Marty another chance to do an extended, pleasingly loud guitar solo.

4. Ripple - Great.

5. NSEW - This is definitely one of the songs off of Starfish that was meant to be played live and it came across perfectly. The only flub -- Steve singing "Restore your lost soul...something else i've forgotten".

6. Old Flame - Steve seems to genuinely like playing this one live. A nice quiet interlude. He prefaced this one by saying, "Here's a little romantic number".

7. Louisiana - I was worried that the crowd might not like this one, given that it's a 6 minute song and I'm sure that 98% have never heard it before, but it went extremely well. Marty slightly messed up the backing vocals on the third verse ("Billy went [Brian: Should be "moved"] to Abilene"), but otherwise it was beautiful.

8. Hotel Womb - Marty prefaced this one with "Let's keep our fingers crossed on this one" Do they usually have a problem playing this one live? If so, it didn't show here.

9. Grind - I hadn't heard this one live, "plugged in" since the GAF tour. I'd forgotten how great it sounds with electric guitar. Still love the acoustic version too. Steve adlibbed toward the end, "Even when we're dead, we've got to grind...".

!martynss.jpg - 5354 Bytes 10. Buffalo - Steve made mention that this was off the new album and that it was another American-themed song. He mockingly vowed that that the next Church album would be about Finland. He started the song by saying, "This one's called Helsinki". This was great live and the crowd loved it. I think this could be a successful single in the US (then again, I am biased).

11. Day of the Dead - Never expected to hear this one. Came across great. Reddish orange lighting of the stage enhanced the feel of this one.

12. UTMW - Of course, the crowd went nuts on this one.

13. Two Places at Once - Great live rendition. Pretty true to the album version

14. Almost with You - This one had the crowd dancing and singing along from the very beginning. The band seemed to really enjoy playing this together, with Steve and Marty shooting an occasional grin each others way. Steve, perhaps alluding to our current President's relationship issues, adlibbed "Is this the taste of perjury..."

15. Reptile - Another huge crowd favorite. Steve added "And I should have believed Eve...She said 'Steve we have to blow'"

Steve jokingly said, "We're going to split...or maybe split up" and then the boys left the stage. The crowd remained screaming for more until they returned to the stage.

Encore 1. Destination - Awesome live version.

Encore 2. Tantalized - Who needs horns? This one ROCKED. Pure energy. This was one of my favorites of the night. Marty got another extended opportunity to display his artistry. (Is this where he threw his guitar off the stage?) Can't recall. The boys leave the stage again. More incessant cheers for more. Obligingly, they return.

Encore 3. You Took - Maybe the best song of the night. Seancer Jeff said before the show started how he would like to hear this song. Well, he got it times 10. Steve started this one by saying something like, "Here's a little psychedelic number". Well he should have called it the "Extended, 10-minute, guitars blaring until your brain seizes and your ears bleed number". All of the Seancers were towards the front of the stage for this one and at the end we all just kind of looked at each other and said something eloquent, along the lines of "Wow". They definitely finished on a high note.

skjz2s.jpg - 5761 Bytes skjz1s.jpg - 4717 Bytes After the show, we all went around to the back of the stage and Steve was just sitting in this chair, signing various items for a small group of fans. All of the Seancers eventually ended up getting to hang out and talk with him. He seemed in great spirits and was extremely gracious, signing everything he was asked to, taking photos and even hinting at the fact the might have a solo album coming out next year. Marty was backstage for a brief period too and was also extremely friendly, but disappeared after about 10 minutes. I had him sign my newly-purchased HOB T-shirt and I said something really deep like "I thought you were great tonight". He replied, "Even better than The Prodigy?"

Sorry this is so long and incoherent, but I'm still completely amped from the whole experience and my brain isn't functioning properly. This was a night I will truly never forget. We'll see if they can top it when they play LA on Sunday ;-).

Good night all. Or good morning, depending where you are.

- john z.

John again
In retrospect this morning, I realize that my review makes no reference to Tim or Peter, who were both amazing. The only bump in the road: Peter seemed to be unhappy with the setup on his guitar during "You took" and actually just threw it to the floor and grabbed a spare. I thought that was SO cool. He kind of seemed like he was doing this whole arrogant rock star thing, but you know that's just not Peter. After his mind-blowing guitar solo, he smiled this big smile and threw his pick into the front row.

Tim was superb. He kept everything going perfectly.

Daniel Hindes
This was my first Church show, and I must say, it was awesome! Since we've got a good review, I'll just add a few things I noticed that haven't been mentioned yet.

1. Aura - They really looked like they were having a good time - and continued all through the show. Steve looked really relaxed and together.

2. Myrrh - Very well recieved

3. An Interlude - hardly an interlude - a 5 minute version; excuse to jam, and they did!

7. Louisiana - "This is the first time we've played this, I hope we get it right." People in front started holding up crossed fingers. Marty noticed and held up crossed fingers too. They hit it, and the song is excellent.

9. Grind - Steve ad lib'd this one a bit, at one point saying "Grind it out, Marty" as Marty was about to go into his solo.

10. Buffalo - "We have a new album coming out on Monday," said Steve (audience cheers). "A lot of the songs talk about placed in America. This is a vain attempt to curry favour with you Americans. I think our next album will be about Finland." Looks at Marty. "How about O Helsinki?" [Brian: For those who don't get the reference, Marty's "Art Attack" album has a song called "O Stockholm"]

Marty5s.jpg - 5011 Bytes 11. Day of the Dead - Never thought this would sound so good live, but this version might even push the song onto my top 10 list! I wondered what Peter would do. As far as I could tell (people kept getting in the way) he held down the rhythm while Marty did all the effects. The song went on for a long time (7 minutes, maybe). Steve kept waiting for Marty to finish his solo so they could do the last verse. About 40 bars into it, Marty was just getting started. The expressions on his face were just priceless. You could see on his face how he felt every note. He was working the pedals furiously, conjuring swirling masses of ghosts and other spirits (Day of the Dead) in the soundscape. Steve and Peter played the supporting chords over and over and over again, Steve looking intently for a cue to start that last verse. Eventually he gave up and signaled to Tim, who stopped the percussion, and Marty let the last notes wail out alone.

12. UTMW - Seconds later Marty was strumming away merrily on an accoustic guitar.

Then Steve said, "We're going to play one more song, and then wher're going to _split_." relishing the last word. "Or maybe we'll split up!" he added, with far too much enthusiasm for anyone to take him seriously. They leave the stage, and return about three minutes later.

Encore 1. Destination - Great version.

Encore 2. Tantalized - They rocked with this one! Marty was jumping around doing rock guitarist spoofs, and generally amazing a couple girls right up in front of the stage. He finished the song playing the riffs about four inches from their faces, and handed them still reverbing guitar as the song ended (audible sighs from fans who had been playing air guitar all night). (The guitar was promptly retrieved by the roadie.)

They leave the stage again, and return a few moments later.

Steve: "We're encore addicts. We can't help it, we're addicted to encores."

Encore 3. You Took - A blistering version, ending only when Marty's guitar stopps working. (He shrugs sheepishly when he misses the closing chords.)

It's only been a day and a half since the show and I'm still in shock. WHAT A SHOW! I remember when the guys first walked out on stage-it's been ten years since I had last seen them and to see them back together (with Tim too of course) was well... beyond these mere words can describe. What a perfect opener ,AURA , the long synth intro leading into the first verse ; "We all came back from the war....." I felt as if I was floating in that peculiar church bliss we all have come to love. I was so happy, tears were starting to form. Steve looked really happy, Marty- in his usual show-man-ship , Peter- intense and raw, and Tim , the perfect back-up for the perfect band.

Met up with other fellow Seancers and we were all very excited to say the least. I made a recording (just a walkman-mainly for the set list) and captured some memories I'll never forget. Steve made some funny and sarcastic comments in which I will share: Before playing LOUSIANA he said "We got this new record coming out monday and a... (audience cheers) don't clap, you haven't heard it yet, it could be fucking terrible." (audience laughs) In ALMOST WITH YOU , instead of singing "Is this the taste of victory", he sung "Is this the taste of PERJURY". And before the last song Reptile, he said "We're gonna do one more and then we're gonna split." (and then he looked directly at Marty and (jokingly?) said: "Or maybe well do one more and SPLIT UP." The crowd immediately cried "NO!" I looked at Peter for a reaction , but found none. I guess when you get into your forties there's a tendency for sarcasm. Of course the last encore YOU TOOK , was what I was really waiting for. They still got it 16 years later!!

After the show I and a few other Seancers and other fans were fortunate to talk with Steve and Marty , have some pictures taken and of course autographs. Steve was happy to see my copy of HOB and I also asked him to sign something (my ticket stub) to all the Seancers. By the way, the shirt is really cool.


The gig was awesome.. they played most of Starfish and went for a full 100 minutes highlights for me.. were Ripple, NSEW,Destination was awesome.. also hearing the loudest rowdiest Tristesse made the 3 hour drive home worth it 100 times over. The show ended when Peter blew out his efx box on the 3rd or 4rth encore.. simply amazing..
Marty1s.jpg - 4233 Bytes This was truly an amazing show, I also went to the Los Angeles show at the House of Blues but the Belly Up show brought you much closer to the band. Marty is definately the guitar king, he puts on quite a show! He was very entertaining to watch, and at one point he went so wild that we pushed him up because he almost slipped off the monitor and fell in the crowd. After the last song, he even gave his guitar out to a girl in the audience and told her to play it! She strummed it a bit, and then the lights came on and a rodie ran out and took the guitar back. The sound quality was not as good as the House of Blues show, but it was great being only a few feet from the band. The LA House of Blues wasn't as close, it puts you about 15 feet away from the band, and the stage is really high. A funny thing was Marty's fan, he had it blowing towards him, probably to cool off from all the hot lights on stage, it said "Marty's Fan Club" on it. I stood next to Marty, so you will see many pictures of him, but I really do like Peter guitar playing, and stood on his side at the House of Blues show.

Marty2s.jpg - 5407 Bytes Some of the funny parts of the Belly Up show was when Steve was singing "Grind", he slipped in the lyrics, "We've got to grind....bump and grind!" And after playing the Milky Way, he stood at attention and gave an officers salute sign with his hand, I do agree he must dread playing that song. At the House of Blues show, Peter was much more lively, and Steve announced that Peter was on drugs....medicine for his cold. There was more in-between song patter, which was nice to see at this show.

Marty3s.jpg - 5066 Bytes After the shows, I really wanted to meet the band so I stuck around for a while trying to get back stage. Unfortunately, I just assumed that Steve (being the moody Virgo that he is, kind of like myself), wouldn't enjoy star-struck fans wanting to take pictures with him. But after I read your reviews of the shows I learned that he stuck around for quite some time and was happy to take pictures and talk to his fans. I was a little bummed that I didn't stay longer or try to get back there, but next time I'll try harder. Maybe I could join the Seancers and we could do it right the next time they come to town.

I forgot to mention one thing. During the Belly Up show, the Church announced that this was the first time they would be attempting to play Louisiana, and they said cross your fingers for good luck. One of the pictures I sent you was Marty crossing his fingers up in the air. [Brian: It's at the top of this page.]

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