First off--kudos to Mr. David Bradfield for setting up the pre-show activities--it was super meeting so many people from the list. Lord knows, I won't even attempt to try and remember all the names!! But it was totally cool trading stories and hearing reports from road warrior "Chrispy", who still is hitting three more shows!! And I know I'm setting myself up for a major shot here, but I have to say the Ladies present were really something else. Besides being attractive, very intelligent and witty, they laughed at all my bad jokes and put up with my incessant ramblings!! "Pax tibi" to them all!!! Not to forget the poor suffering bartender--he mixed a great Rum & Coke!!
But to the heart of the matter--THE CHURCH blew the roof off of the club--absolutely fried my brain in the process too!! They played with a conviction that has to be seen to be believed!! The set list was exactly the same as what has been posted prior so I won't bother to post it again. MW-P spent most of the night hunched over his various "Ricks" driving himself into an orbit only he is familiar with and "forcing" every sound possible out of his axe. I kept wondering if he was going to (a) either break the neck off one of his guitars or (b) if his hand was going to fall off instead. PK's playing was like the icing on the proverbial cake--he complimented MW-P perfectly and made it look easy in the process!! Those two cats were born to play together. TP was rock solid on the skins and never let up for one second that I could see. SK was spot on too of course. A very small crowd but definitely dedicated fans. I would venture a guess that it left the 100+ emotionally and mentally spent. I kept hearing people talking about the list, "Shadow Cabinet", etc. before, during and after the show.
The highlight of the whole evening for me was right before the two encores when they were walking off stage and I said "hi" to MW-P and he looked at me and yelled back: "Mad Louie, you rock!" Afterwards about a dozen or so people went backstage and had the band autograph album covers, cd booklets, pieces of cardboard, whatever. They were totally into the whole "meet & greet" thing and it was cool catching up on people and places with the guys. I just hope they take my advice and come back to North America soon...it was the best bleepin' high I've had in too many moons...
Anyway, the sound was amazing- I've never heard rock music sound so beautiful. Marty was great- I had no idea he is such a virtuosic lead player, and he was very active, grinning at the fans and putting on a show. Peter and Steve were reserved, but I guess that's their style, as they got more into it as the night went on, judging by the smiles they flashed at times, and by the end, our small but enthusiastic core of fans appeared to have won them over- these people were nuts! I just stood there, taking it all in. It's weird seeing people whose music can be said to have had a formative influence on your life, after all these years.
The set list (not in order) was Almost With You (the band seemed to particularly enjoy playing this one), An Interlude, You Took (the last encore), Myrrh, Tantalized, Under the Milky Way (delivered without a smirk), Destination, Hotel Womb, Reptile, North South East West, Grind, Priest=Aura, Old Flame, Ripple, Day of the Dead, I'll be Waiting, Lousiana, and Buffalo (changed to "down in Buffalo" for us northerners).
A good review of their career for an ignorant continent, although I would have loved to have heard "Comedown", which is from the one album which wasn't released here (I payed a lot for that CD, I can tell you). Towards the end of the set, a fan offered a smoke to Marty (evidently the people's favourite, they were screaming at him all night), which he graciously accepted. Overall, I have to say that, as a musician, I found my faith in rock and roll reaffirmed by this understated but extremely powerful show, which I badly needed! I hope the guys came away with an appreciation for the influence their music has had on a couple of hundred lives here in the middle of Canada, thousands of miles away from Bondi!
Just before show time, Marty and Steve were on the local radio show that highlights that night's live performances. Steve had a few verbal run in's with the show's host as to why the band didn't draw well in Toronto. The band made alot of hints that the show didn't sell well and they may not ever come back. It's unfortunate, but the Toronto radio stations just refuse to play The Church, and I personally think that will ever change. My brother in law and I drove the 100 miles from Buffalo, NY up to show. We were in line to enter the club when a car dropped Steve and Marty off after returning from the radio show. The doors were locked to the club and Steve banged loudly on the door and shouted "open the fucking doors." A security guard asked who he was, to which he replied " I'm the fucking band" as he stormed past and into the hall. Neither he nor Marty seemed in good spirts. The doors went open at 8 and the band went on about 5 past 10. The set was very similar to the ones I see listed at the other shows so i wont repeat that, but i will nail my highlights.
Aura and Ripple although not as sonicly smooth as the CD versions, but they took on a muscular and straight ahead rock groove that made them musical bedrock.
Day of the Dead was incredible. It was a shock to me to even hear it, but Marty just impressed me beyond words. A physical and emotional song for him as well as Steve who appeared charged as he sang those words.
Two Places at Once was gorgeous. Marty's voice live is a exact reflection of the recorded versions. His breathing and singing was flawless. The lyrical beauty of this song combined with the 12 string acoustic left me a memory of a lifetime.
The songs of Starfish that they played were performed the way i wish they would have been recorded: Direct and Stripped. NSEW, Reptile, and Destination all simmered and Under the Milky Way was devoid of the silly bagpipes and replaced with Peter's mastery of sonic landscapes. His Ebow work and the harmonics he hit all night were crisp.
I was shocked to hear Old Flame, but i loved it's subtle and short message. It's sung like a legal deposition, honest and real.
The songs of Heyday were revved up and served raw. Peter seemed to really enjoy playing the older material, and his expressions seemed to hint at this. The band really kicked into a different gear, and the power of Tim's drumming was so obvious. I thought Tim was fantastic, his timing and meter were dead on and he drove the band, not the other way around. It was during the Heyday songs I thought he sounded the most like Ploog, but he adds a layer on top , an extra little that seperates adequate from outstanding. With his production skills too, I'm glad Tim is in the band.
Hope I didn't leave out anyone elses favorites. Yes, You Took was powerful, but by the time they played it, about 2 full hours into the show, I was emotionally spent and didn't savor it as much as I should.
My brother in law and I plodded off to our car and drove the long ride home without much to say except "Fuckin Awesome..."
My parting words were somebody should have let the band know there were lots of Buffalo, NY natives in the building. It would have been a nice goodbye lullaby to hear that ode to our fine city and it's hellish winters.
P.S. MY HOB CD as well as the Bonus disk arrived the weekend before the show. It was reallly cool to hear Louisiana, a really nifty song, performed live. Of note also, only one song from GAF(a happening version of Grind) and none from MATS were performed, saying volumes silently.