Pictures are copyright of Bill McDermott.
The Philly show....way too pressed for time before and after, but I did get to briefly meet Chrispy and John Micek...Hi Guys:-) Hope there are no bruises on your hands;>
On the drive to Philly, I heard on the radio that SK and MWP would be live in the WLIR studios at lunch the next day; so I boogied on back to make sure I heard it. I taped it, and will be transcribing it later today. circumcision, kilts, glass eyes...was a very humorous segment. They were supposed to be playing live; but, according to Steve, the equipment truck had left Philly early with the guitars aboard, and so they had no guitars/ They did play three Church songs through the course of the segment: UTMW, Louisiana, and Reptile...three Church songs on the radio within 15 minutes of each other...WAHOOOOOOO. It seemed to me that the radio version of Louisiana had a slightly different mix than the album version, other than being aborted down to radio length; Steve’s vocals seemed much more “up front” and clearly legible. Super glad to have finally heard it on WLIR though; I knew they would come through. Now I can call and request it 15 times a day...time to add a new number to the speed dialer.
The NYC show at Tramps......Wow, what a night. Again, the heavens opened and did their best to thwart my dreams. Traffic in NY is bad enough; but to spend 2 hours 15 minutes driving 30 miles? Gimme a break!! So I finally made it Tramps Cafe with my friend Vicky at about 7:45; only 45 minutes late. Walking through the door, it was fairly easy to find the Seance table. Chrispy, John DiFool, Kathi K, Drew the roadie....all the others...memory fails me at this point, to my eternal regret. Chatting, some dining, some beers, a neat little 4 piece Jazz combo, then off to Da Show. The first opening band was The Rosenbergs, apparently the winners of a local radio station’s “Best Band” contest. They were young, barely out of high school, but played a fairly tight, rocking set. They were thoroughly enjoyable and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The second band was the Poem Rockets, an odd trio. At times the seemed to play pretty well, but the bug-eyed satanic/mojo- shaking/voodoo guitarist was a tad on the strange side, and they were never able to win the audience over. To me, it was a relief when they finally finished their set.
11:15, 11:30, somewhere around there the Church took the stage. Tramps has a capacity of about 900, and this place was packed. I mean wall-to-wall people. Church Fan Sardines. The set was excellent; you all know the list, but standouts for me were Hotel Womb, Grind, Two Places at Once; Tantalized and You Took left me numb. Digression....my main Church “listening technique” is to lie in bed in the dark and just listen; let the music pour into and through me. Many times during the set I found myself standing there with my eyes closed, shutting out every thing but the music. Pete and Marty’s guitars just fuzzed and swirled, sweeping me along while Tim and Steve provided the battering ram to open my thick head. It was like that for me the whole night. I’m a singalong kind of guy, but mostly kept my mouth shut, I was so into it. The people around me don’t know how lucky they are; I’m that bad ;) For two hours my mind was pretty much separate from my body. Humorous note....on the radio show earlier in the day, Steve was asked what they would be playing that night. He thought for a second, then offered up Freebird....Smoke on the Water....Hotel California. As people were shouting out their “wish” songs, I yelled out “Smoke on the Water” I damn near peed myself when Steve played the opening bars, I was so funny. Marty yelled something in my direction, but I couldn’t make it out....I think he was telling me to listen to some album or something...did anyone get what he said?
Steve sang “we filled up the tank up at Shell” instead of “Texaco” during Day of the Dead. There were no real bad tech problems, and they incredibly tight and focused, hitting all their cues...’twas a damn near perfect set. It’ll be days before it fully sinks in:-)
After the show, a large group of people where gathered around the backstage entrance; a large number of Seancers amongst. As they started letting a few people back, it seemed the Seancers got priority. I became separated from the pack, and unable to get to the gate through the crowd. Because of Chrispy’s association with Drew....Drew sent a bouncer through the pack, opening up a path. When he got to me, he put his arm on my shoulder and with a “c’mon” whisked me through the pack and backstage. Thanks Chrispy:-) Enter the basement, with Marty draped across a sofa with a thong around him. Pete and Tim wandered in and about; Steve apparently blew right out and went back to the hotel. Tim was saying that the band would be taking the train to DC at 1:00 Sat....would be pretty cool to be stuck on Amtrak for 5 hours with The Church:-) Marty was off to buy a laptop this morning, and was looking for a T3 connection for it (jokingly). He mentioned an email address of his, but I’m not really an intrusive person and made no effort to remember it; but it’s not like email in his house...more like an email “service”, like an answering service...still, I think some Seancers have it...you never know what he might respond to, eh? He also has another solo album coming out next year:-) Pete was quite warm and friendly; I felt more comfortable approaching him than any of the others. Around 3:00 AM the bouncers started shepherding everyone out, and it was time to call it a night...but what a night:-)
To all the Seancers I met....you all are the best! I’m proud and happy to stand in such company:-) Thanks for a great time; and hopefully it won’t take another Church concert to bring us together again (hint hint)
The venue was kind of annoying; the only place I could get a good view since the floor was so packed was up by the bar behind the mixing board. There was some hideous guy who was whacked out on something behind me whose language was somewhere beyond Tourette's syndrome and a football locker room. Would've told him to shut the f--- up if my girlfriend wasn't there. Plus ventilation wasn't so good, and I estimate I second-hand smoked about a pack and a half of Marlboros.
However, the band was really good. "Myrhh" and "Louisiana" particularly stood out. Thought I would be bored with "UTMW", but whatever effect Peter was using was way cool. Backing vocals were too low on "NSEW". Marty was off the hook on some of his solos. Don't know who was complaining about Tim's drumming the other day, but I thought he was outstanding.
I had filled my backpack with about ten cds for just in case, and then my friend Talarisha and I took the train into the city. Just as she and I got to Tramps, the band had just finished their soundcheck so we didn't get to hear it. There was a girl from Australia waiting outside. She had tried to get in the club explaining that she had come all the way from Australia, but they still wouldn't let her in!
They had set up barricades on either side of the doors and as I went to stand by the barricade to the left of the door, I spotted Steve inside! He had seen us and he came out and straight over to us. He was smoking a brown cigarette (I forget what those are called) and wearing a black leather jacket and he looked so good! Just like he did in 1990, though as someone else has pointed out, he did have white in his beard, but I didn't find that unappealing. He chatted to the girl from Australia first and then I asked him if he'd sign some cds. "Of course," he said and came right over. My hands were shaking so badly and I thought I was going to collapse because my legs had turned to jelly. I think I fished out the booklet from Earthed first for him to sign--I don't quite remember--and I said "look at all these cds I brought" and held the bag open for him to see. "I'll sign all of them," he said and I couldn't believe it! He crouched down on the ground so he could lean the cd liners on his leg to sign them and right then it started to rain.
"Fucking rain," he said and moved back towards the entrance to club so he wouldn't get wet. When he'd signed them all, I said, "Well, that's it, unless you want to sign a Marty-solo cd." I was joking. And he said " He doesn't like that." He was so nice. He took a particular interest in my Jokes, Magic, and Souvenirs bootleg cd which he said he'd never seen before. I told him I'd brought it with me to listen to on the drive home from the train station afterwards to come down from being so pumped from seeing them play. "Pumped?" he asked and chuckled. He looked at the back of the cd. "This was recorded at the Palace. You know like in the song: 'backstage at the palace?'" He was like a little kid. He seemed so pleased to be talking about his music with people who knew what he was talking about and really cared. Then, for some reason, I went into this chattering mode, which I do when I'm nervous, and I told him about how the liner notes to the copy of A Quick Smoke at Spots had a bunch of Depeche Mode photos in them. Would you believe that I forgot the name of that cd right in front of Steve? The title completely left my head but he was kind enough to supply it. I don't remember what he said when I told him about the liner notes.
I asked him about his daughters and he beamed. "They're identical." Um, okay, I know. Is that why you sing about twins? "Do I?" Well, yes on MATS and on a Hex CD twins are mentioned. "Yeah, well, there's also "Ellie stop yawning [Brian: that's in Two Places At Once]; that's Elecktra June, and 'Glow Worm' is about Minna." I asked him about Remindlessness being rereleased. "I have to find the tapes," he said. I asked him what he was up to now. "We're going out to dinner with the record company." Thirsty Ear? "Yes,"he smiled. I asked him since he was vegetarian if he'd ever heard of a restaurant called Zen Buddha and he got excited, "Yeah, there's also a place called Zen Palate--" That's what I meant, I blush. He then said that he really loved the place. (Later the Australian girl, Amanda Prince, said she'd heard him say that that's where they were going with the record company to eat, but I missed that part.) I asked him which one since there were two and he said the one on 76th and Broadway. Was he excited? "No, why?" About the show? "I do this every night," he said.
I mentioned that they weren't playing many songs from the new album and that they were supposed to start playing them in Australia. "How did you know that?...oh, yeah, the internet..." At one point a man carrying a small amplifier asked us to move so he could bring it into the club. Steve had to step over a barricade to get out of his way and he said, "This is the most exercise I've had all day." He was in high spirits and I was grateful that he was so kind to us since i'd heard horror stories about him being difficult. While we were talking to him he looked over at Talarisha and asked if she was old enough to get into the club (she always has that problem; she's always getting carded.) She assurred him that yes, she could since she's 20. He was signing my ticket at this time and I mentioned that I was trying to convert her. "Is it painful?" he asked her. "Would you like yours (her ticket) signed too in case you make it? And then if you don' t you can always sell it to her for ten bucks." I pointed out that since Tala is my best friend she should give it to me! So he signed both of our tickets. So sweet. Then he shook both of our hands.
He was really amazing. Amanda had met him before and he actually remembered her and that she came from Melbourne. In all, we had to have spent a good ten to fifteen minutes chatting with him, and I'm kicking myself because in my nervousness I forgot to ask him what I really wanted to know: how was his arm, which arm had it been? [Brian: His left.] were his ears bothering him? was marty's throat better? and a host of others. I console myself with the thought that since it happened once, it could always happen again. Let's hope.
The rest of the band emerged from the club to go to dinner and I caught hold of Peter asking him to sign my From the Well cd. He was going to but neither one of us had a pen, so he couldn't since Steve was telling him to come on. While he was looking for the pen he said, "I've got a new one coming out, did you know about that one?" I said no, but remembered later that someone had mentioned talking to him backstage about it in a review on Shadow Cabinet. He seemed really sorry to give me back my cd unsigned. "Maybe I'll see you later," he said. And then they all disappeared into the darkness. We thought about following them, but we didn't want to be intrusive. I mean, this was probably a business dinner with their record company. All they needed was a trio of women ogling them and giggling and harassing the wait staff for a pen!
The bathroom at Tramps was covered in graffiti and I thought about using the new black Sharpie i had just bought to leave a sentiment of love about our beloved band on the grotty once-white tiles, but i chickened out. :(
The Church took the stage at 11:30. From where i was standing I could see the setlist taped to the floor. They opened with Aura. The next song on the list was Myrrh, but Marty and Peter exchanged a look and Marty began to play NSEW. Steve smiled and shook his head and Marty and Peter laughed as they went into the song. Then they played An Interlude, which was supposed to come after Myrrh. I can't remember whether they played Ripple and Old Flame next (I think so) but then Steve went over to Peter and then to Marty and said,"Myrrh now." So they did Myrrh. The rest of the setlist:
Day of the Dead
Under the Milky Way
Two Places at Once
Almost with You
Funny things said between songs: Steve says, "We love playing in Cleveland." He said something else before that that I couldn't make out. Maybe someone else can tell you. He later said something about it being the old songs review or something and someone shouted out for Smoke on the Water which Steve began to play and Marty said something that I couldn't make out :(.
People were shouting out for their favorite songs so Steve said, "Don't bother shouting out your favorites. It wont' do any good. We can't remember all of our 300 songs. We can't even remember the songs we do play." Of course, everyone laughed. At one point someone shouted out for Bastard Universe and Steve goes,"Oh, yeah, we'll play that. An 80 min. instrumental jam." Steve would go "thank you," after every few songs and people were shouting,"no, thank you, Steve!" Someone shouted for "Unguarded Moment." I shouted "No,no!!" back at them because I didn't want the band to get pissed off. That didn't stop two other people shouting out for it on two later occasions, but if the band noticed, they didn' t seem to mind, or at least it didn't seem like that to me.
Hmmm...what else? Oh, yes. It seems that Marty is in a constant dialogue with the audience, always making eye contact with individuals and smiling and mouthing things to them. While he was playing his part during Grind he kept mouthing "It's easy. It's easy," at some awestruck fan. He didn't have a large space to work in but he was all over the place and smoking furiously between songs. Peter was quietly in the background, and I had to marvel that the band was playing such a Marty-intensive set, but there you go. Maybe when they get to Australia and start doing songs off the new album that will change. Steve kept his eyes closed most of the time or stared at the back wall. When his eyes were open they were red and glassy. I wonder why. :) By the time the band left before the first encore, Tim's shirt was soaked with sweat. He was really working it hard. I really liked his contributions to the songs. During Almost with You, Marty and Peter shared a private joke and Tim chuckled along with them. Steve was oblivious, though.
I can't say enough about the songs, which were executed perfectly, so I won't try. The show ended with Steve throwing his pick into the audience and leaving while Peter and Marty competed with each other to see who could produce the loudest feedback. Peter gave it up and left and Marty handed his guitar and pick to some guy in the audience. The guy made a little noise with it before Marty took it back and rested it in its stand. He gestured toward Tim, who was still playing and the audience cheered him, then he waved to us all and left. Tim continued to drum for a bit before he too finished and left.
After the show, I had the nice man who'd gotten me paper before the show grab the setlist off the floor for me. One of Marty's picks was laying neatly on top of it, so he gave me that, too.:)
We waited around to try to get backstage, but we were tired, and anyway, we'd already had our fifteen minutes with Steve. So we went out into the cool drizzly night and said our goodbyes to Amanda before heading off to Penn Station. When the show had ended, it was almost 2:00am. The last train out of Penn on the North Jersey coastline was at 2:04am. So Tala and I were stuck in Penn station until 6:30am. But it was worth it. If I had it to do all over again I would. I'm sorry this was so long. But it really was one of the best nights of my life and I wanted to share it with you.
I was the "awestruck fan"...
I was watching Marty playing the guitar during the song...Marty spotted me closely looking at his playing, made eye contact with me and mouthed "it's Easy", twice...since I didn't understand what he mouthed the first time! I suppose he thought I played the guitar (which I do not), I was watching because I remembered someone on Shadow Cabinet saying how tough it was to play Grind's guitar part...go figure...It was really great to see them so interactive with the audience...Although I have to say Steve was a bit sedate on stage that night....
It was a lovely show, and a dream come true for me that night, I missed their last tour here in NYC in 1990...I had waited so long...I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!
Also, One page article about the new album in this months Alternative Press...(Deftones on the cover)...also an album review which gives Hologram Of Baal four out of five!
two things i haven't seen mentioned yet......they started with the intro from anaesthesia, giving the sense they might just open with a surprise. also, between songs steve plucked out a few notes from "west side story's" 'maria'......i'm sure because of the NYC locale, the setting for the musical......the CHURCH at trammps was perhaps one of the most incredible performances i've eve seen and i'm a 38 yr. old who's seen hundreds if not thousands of shows going back to george harrison in 1974.. ......the CHURCH have left me awestruck and inspired.....
Hologram shows the Church's taste for psychedelicized, obscure, guitar-driven pop has been left intact, even though the world in general has pretty much picked up and moved on. To most, the band's name conjures up gooshy memories of its one U.S. Top 40 hit, 1988's "Under the Milky Way," the theme to countless senior proms. But be warned: just uttering "the Ch--" to fans could result in awestruck fits of hyperbole: "Kilbey possesses the voice of a hypnotic sex god! The pen of a poet! The mind of a philosopher! Marty Willson-Piper is The Most Brilliant Guitar Player in Rock! The other guys are really great! Yeah!"
Frontman Kilbey does sport the stony face and narcotized demeanor befitting an object of slavish devotion (the polar opposite behavior being Bono's cabaret posturing and self-importance), but his "museum" joke proves he's got a decent sense of self-deprecation as well. After nearly two decades in the business, let's just say he and the guys aren't looking so dreamy and celestial anymore. Willson-Piper's adopted a scraggly, graying version of Bernard Butler's old chin-length-mane-over-the-face thing, and Kilbey's droopy Fu-Manchu/soul patch combo, grown-out pudding-bowl shag, and troublesome white trousers (after Labor Day, even) were awfully unsettling. But that didn't matter a whit to the worshipful throngs who stocked up on clove cigarettes, decked themselves out in a consistent fashion (ethereal Goth-wear for the ladies, old tour t-shirts for the guys), and journeyed through the bone-chilling, rainy, all-around appropriate evening to warm themselves before what flashes of heat the band managed to generate during its two-hour set.
The Church chose to draw most heavily from its U.S. breakthrough album, Starfish, yet the entire play list -- spanning over a decade and a half's worth of material -- was workman-tight and remarkably well-balanced, even troublingly so. The Church is nothing if not rooted in its sound, and its live act relies heavily on the talents of Willson-Piper to keep matters interesting. The man can do some very unholy things with his guitar, and his intense, could-have-gone-on-forever coda to 1994's "Day of the Dead" made for an absorbing high point: hunching over with his guitar at his knees, then his shin, until it actually was touching the stage, he dashed off an effects-laden barrage that was fascinating to watch and almost enough to drown out the irritating, drunken Dharma-wannabe behind us (who yammered loudly about nothing of any discernible interest for the entire set, pausing only to bellow "Metropoliiis!" every so often). As if snapping out of a trance, Willson-Piper bounced up, beamed, swigged from one of the three beers on his amp, and donned an acoustic to launch "Under the Milky Way," which unsurprisingly received the crowd's loudest response.
After "Tantalized" (propelled by Willson-Piper's killer freight-train chugging), the band came back for the traditional live closer "You Took" and capped things off with a feedback-and-drums indulgence which inspired guitarist Peter Koppes to stand around and smoke, Kilbey to stalk off, and Willson-Piper to pitch his Rickenbacker into the crowd (he got it back). At a quarter to two, it was over. The fans were plenty satiated, but if not for Willson-Piper, this would have made for one arid museum exhibit.