We started to follow some of the group to one of the restaurants down the street from the Odeon, but my husband said, "Wait! Listen to this sound check!!" We stood outside listening and it was beautiful! After a little while, Peter, Steve, Marty and Tim walked out of the club and stopped to chat with a few people. Rich went over toward Peter and walked down the street with him. Steve then walked by us while I was elbowing my husband, and he looked over at us and said "Hi." I almost freaked out! I then got the courage to go up to Marty and say welcome to Cleveland and shake his hand! What a nice guy! He was very cool and even chatted with us for a moment! If my night had ended at that moment, I would have been happy, but thankfully, it did not! After meeting up with the Seance group again, we all headed for the venue and waited for the show to begin.
As with most of the shows, Aura was the opener, it was great (although I am almost positive that Steve skipped a line or two)! Myrrh, An Interlude, NSEW, Ripple, Louisiana, Hotel Womb, Grind, Buffalo, Day of the Dead, UTMW, Two Places At Once, Almost With You, Reptile, Destination, Tantalized, and You Took were played (I think that I got all of them), and they were all highlights!! Peter’s guitar work was beautiful and Steve’s bass was intense and his vocals were mesmerizing. Tim is one hell of a kick ass drummer !! Marty was jumping around playing his ass off! We heard that he had a sore throat and that he was holding back during the sound check, but when he sang on Two Places at Once, he was GREAT! He got a big cheer from the audience (mainly the Seance members)and I believe that I saw Steve somewhat smirking, maybe even smiling. Reptile rocked! Tantalized, with the guys rocking on stage and the lighting was INCREDIBLE! I turned around and looked at my husband, and he was standing there with this look of disbelief on his face. At that moment, The Church became one of his favorite bands! They then played You Took and that was so cool!
After the show I was able to go backstage (Thanks Jason and Kathy!!) and meet the band! It was a great experience! I spoke to Peter and I told him how I enjoyed the show and how I thought that Water Rites was absolutely beautiful! He was so nice and surprisingly talkative. I asked him to sign my Spanish Promo Gatefold from Starfish, and he goes, “Oh my, I haven’t seen this in a long time! Hey Steve look at this!” Jason then gave Marty the gatefold to sign while I chatted with Peter for a moment and he looked at it and said, “Boy, those were the days...” and he shook his head. We then approached Steve and Jason told him that there was a very shy person who would like to meet him and Steve took my gatefold and signed the cover “TO SHY PERSSON Love, Steve Kilbey xx.” He then drew a little slash across Richard’s face on the promo and looked back up at me and took my Hologram CD and signed the booklet and my ticket stub. He was very cool to talk to but you could tell that he was very tired. Marty mentioned about a documentary about the Egyptians having the first written language and Peter was talking about the planets and their elliptical orbit around the Sun.
After that, I just kind of stood back and watched and listened to everyone and waited until it was time for us to leave. On our way out of the club we thanked Ward (what a nice guy!) for the backstage passes and spoke to Trevor and complimented him on the lighting. Once outside, I was able to approach Tim and he signed my Louisiana CDS. He had this exotic olive green zippered front shirt with a gold paisley type of design on the front. Steve posed for a picture with someone out front and right before the flash he turned to the fan as if we was going to kiss him on the cheek! What a riot!
It was great to meet so many cool people and to place faces with all of these online names! I would also like to especially thank Steve, Marty, Peter, and Tim for their wonderful music and for making this one of the best nights of my life!
Tim was absolutely wonderful, a first class individual. He said that your work on Shadow Cabinet was excellent, that they would probably be starting recording of a new album in March, and that he was hopefully going to do some remixes of tracks on HOB to try to break into the club scene. He didn't seem too happy about MATS and said to me "Hologram of Baal is the first true Church album since Priest=Aura". Tim also said they would move toward more internet selling in the future.
Marty was also great, and he said "if it wasn't for the fanzine and the internet, I don't think the Church would be around right now". When I asked if he meant Shadow Cabinet, he said yes and that he loves how professional the site looks, that a lot of internet sites don't look anywhere near as nice as Shadow Cabinet.
Peter was the most talkative and engaging of them all and my fiance even played the piano backstage with him after the Detroit show. We discussed all sorts of things over the three nights, and at the end he had opening champagne for them and he called me an 'honorary Church friend'. It was a dream come true.
Marty told me that if they can get 500-900 people at every show (assuming the venue is that big), they will be able to tour again at a future point. That is definitely something to pass on. The Detroit venue only held 450 or so, and it was sold out, so there is that. Marty estimated the crowd at Cincinnati to be around 600 people, so that one passes muster. Cleveland was probably only 350, though, and Toronto was 250 at best, so those are looking pretty bad. But those were the only two shows that Tim and Marty mentioned as being 'low sellers'.
Peter told me some amazing things. I asked about 'Make a Move' from Love/Era Irony and he tried to play it on the piano for me, but couldn't transpose it. He said that it was his favorite track on that album and that he was glad I asked about it. I asked about the backing singer, and he told me she was a prostitute whom he knew (I didn't ask how well ;-) and who didn't have much confidence in her singing. In fact, she was not told that her part was going to be on the album, so Pete kinda went behind her back the whole time. Shocked me, I tell you. One quite funny moment was when Pete asked me what he should play on the piano. I immediately said 'Tristesse' but he said no, no church stuff. This was actually before the 'Make a Move' conversation, and led up to it. So he is waiting for me to come up with something and my mind is totally blank. I look to my fiance, but she gives me a blank look, thanks Kathy (her name) for all the support. Finally I sputter out "Piano Man" (Billy Joel) and Pete looked at me for a second in disbelief then said "That's one warning. Ever say something like that again, we'll throw you out". He was joking, of course, but I felt like a real idiot. I managed to recover a little and say "well Pete, I don't listen to much besides the Church and solo stuff, so I had nothing else come to mind".
Pete also made a joke about how his solo albums never sell. He mentioned that he has "lots of unreleased stuff" but didn't say anything when I asked him when he would next put out another album. Before the show in Cleveland, Kathy and I were discussing the meaning of life with Peter (quite a neat conversation) and also about how he keeps healthy (colloidal minerals). When I was trying to open a bottle of champagne after the show, Pete told me that it should be like "caressing a woman's thigh' and I just gave him this 'oh yeah right' look and he sheepishly admitted "well, I haven't exactly mastered it myself". I did a bad job of it, but at least I didn't hit any of the guys with the cork.
Pete also really liked Kathy and kept saying how beautiful she was and that I had better take good care of her when we were married. His advice for what makes a successful marriage: have the same taste in music. He was just so nice. He wanted to see her after the Cleveland show (I was only given two passes, I gave one to a die-hard fan and Kathy volunteered to wait with the other Seancers outside) and so he got into his coat, got out a pass, and told me to go get her and bring her in. I was just getting ready to do that when someone told them the bar was closing so they had to leave. But we talked briefly outside with Pete, so it was fine.
I asked Marty about Hanging Out in Heaven and he said he has an offer from a San Francisco record company (I believe this is Heyday records, but I didn't ask him) to release it. But then he frowned and said that it was four years old and he didn't know if he would release it. We talked about Seeing Stars (he signed my copy) and he asked me my favorite song on it, which is 'Where the Rainstorm Ends' which he said he created through just improvising it. He seems to like 'Ugly and Cruel' since he asked me what I thought of it. Since Marty had a sore throat Sunday night, I offered to do some energy healing for him, but he said he didn't believe in religion or spirituality, only love. I told him he didn't have to believe in it for it to help, but he still said he didn't want any of it.
Tim indicated that the live album may come out, but he said that the album really focused on the older material and he wanted them to move in a new direction and put the focus on new songs. He told me that later in the tour (starting at the Australian shows), they would be playing more songs off HOB: Anaesthesia, The Great Machine, Tranquility, Buffalo, and Lousiana. I thought that was really cool. Tim also says he really feels part of the band and doesn't let comparisons to Ploog bother him. In a side comment to Marty (I had asked Marty if they would use radiotronics on the next album), Tim said that they had enough radiotronics left over on the master tapes to use on the new album. Also, both Tim and Marty stressed that while they loved the long-time fans, they needed to attract new fans. I also asked Tim for a picture and he said if I wore his sweaty clothes from the show, he would do it. When I said 'sure', he said he was just kidding and he wouldn't do that to me.
Another funny little anecdote stems from me asking Steve to sign my import single of Louisiana. Steve looked at it, looked at me, and said in a rather suspicious tone "what is this?" I think he thought I had bootlegged something. Once we had it straightened out, he said that they hadn't seen it yet and proceeded to read the inner information with great interest. Marty and Tim had the exact same reaction! (Peter had left so he didn't see it that night) Very strange....they all went directly to the inner notes. Oh well, it was neat to surprise the guys. When Steve was eating one of my mom's cookies, he looked at me and said "oh, so you're trying to fatten us up then say we're old and fat". I, of course, said no I wasn't trying to do that and asked him if he liked it. He did. I also had a rather sad moment with Steve backstage after the Cleveland show. I asked him how Electra and Miranda were, and he said he didn't know. Then I said "that must be the toughest part of touring, being away from them" and Steve said "yes, it is". He just seemed so alone. Then I mentioned that I had really felt like I was in a wonderful, transcendant state during some of the songs that night and Steve said "that's the way it should be all the time", I think referring to feeling that way during all the songs. I also asked Steve whether I was bothering them, being around so much, and he said "no, you're no bother" which made me feel great. I tell you one word from him just makes my day (or week or month)!
I had inquired with Ward about getting a soundboard tape (apparently the guys video recorded some of the shows) and he said that the only concern was that the band didn't want a good bootleg out there which could hurt sales of the live album. But otherwise the band saw no problem with bootlegs and a number of Seancers made audience tapes. Whether anyone will get a soundboard recording from the US tour remains to be seen. The soundboard people have tended to be a little nasty (I believe one of them made Chrispy a little chrispier....)
Anyone who showed up at the Odeon last Sunday expecting to hear the Church perform "Under the Milky Way" went home satisfied. Those who have never heard another song by this Australian-based quartet may have been startled by the sonic furies unleashed before and after that dreamy classic. True, the Church briefly found success in this country as a moody, atmospheric rock band, yet only the devoted faithful know that despite the pretty trimmings, they are a rock band, after all - when the urge strikes them, these guys can unleash a howling vortex of guitars unmatched this side of Curve or My Bloody Valentine.
Delivering a thunderous, 18-song-and-two-encore sermon, bassist/vocalist Steve Kilbey, guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes and drummer Tim Powles quoted freely from 18 years of scripture to an ecstatic (though half-capacity) congregation. Having last appeared around these parts as a duo in 1994, the Church made their first full-on show in five years a memorable cavalcade of old-school alterna-pop standards, drawing particularly heavy from 1988's breakthrough album Starfish.
A few members of the parish were put off by the non-appearance of "The Unguarded Moment" and "Metropolis," but considering Kilbey's stated feelings toward those songs, their absence wasn't exactly a shock. A bigger surprise, unfortunately, was the near total absence of new material. Only "Louisiana" made the set list (ed. note -- hello? what about "Buffalo"?) from the newly released Hologram of Baal, which is easily the band's strongest effort since 1992's majestic Priest=Aura.
Whether floating through elaborate, richly detailed epics ("Aura", "Hotel Womb", and "Ripple") or doling out squalls of feedback and distorted shred ("Reptile" and "Tantalized"), this Antipodean foursome can easily come across as aloof in concert. Aside from a few perfunctory "thank you's" and a thin-lipped smile or three, Kilbey, Powles and (to a lesser extent) Koppes let their music do the talking...not that there's anything wrong with that. As for Willson-Piper, describing his stage presence as "animated" would be akin to calling David Yow "extroverted." While his bandmates kept their emotional distance, Willson-Piper jumped and spun about whilst madly flailing at his Rickenbacker and grinning like a kid having the time of his life. "Tantalized" in particular found the shaggy guitarist machine-gunning his six-string mercilessly while the lighting rig strobed his frantic movements into a display of surreal stop-motion. While it's Kilbey's voice and shy demeanor that gives the Church that sense of distance so crucial to their appeal, Willson-Piper is the band's connection to the audience, and he plays the role of court jester with palpable relish.