Ireland '98

I've posted these in order from oldest to newest because there's a bit of a conversational flow in there.

Anne Ward took a couple of these pictures on this page. The other pictures on were taken by Brian Bannon and sent in by Trevor McCormack. Trevor gave Steve a copy of his book "The Eternal Second" of poetry and Steve "praised it" - take a look !

Last Modified : 19th Feb : Added Killyleagh picture from Brian Bannon.


Date: 18 Jan '98
From: "Kevyn Marshall"

Hi,
Drogheda - The Church 4 K What a great weekend ! I flew out to Dublin on Friday morning and met up with Trev, Nick, Andy and Darrell in the afternoon. We got the train up to Drogheda and found somewhere to stay, Hostile Hostel or something like that. The gig was at a pub called Peter Matthews so we headed off there to sample the Guiness. At the rear of the pub was a larger room where Steve and Marty were to play, no stage though. We met up with a couple more Church fans there. Steve and Marty arrived so we all managed to catch up on the latest news about the LP (called "Bastard Universe" says Steve) and other plans, Steve has had his hair cut fairly short and looked really well.

whe_m1s.jpg 3.69 K Watching the soundcheck was like a dream, it was quite emotional being there with just a few other people as they played Bel-Air, An Arrangement, Into My Hands and others. It wouldn't be possible to put into words what this band mean to me, being there was just unbelievable. By the time the proper set started the room had filled up, this was just a warm-up gig and it was free. It was fairly obvious that most of the people there just weren't interested in the music- the best band in the world comes to your local pub and you just talk throughout it. They cut the set short due to the constant apathy but they did play Ritz, Shadow Cabinet, Tristesse, Mistress, Fly, Bel-Air, 10000 Miles, Comedown, My Little Problem, Will I Start To Bleed, Providence, NSEW, Grind, Milky Way, Hotel Womb.

dro_m1s.jpg 4.19 K At the end we hung around for a while, trying to delay our return to our "beds", I'll save that for the "flea-pits you've stayed in" list. We went down to Dublin the next morning, had a look around the record shops, etc before heading off to Whelans. This is the main gig of the tour, all the other dates are at fairly out of the way places. At least at this show everyone was there to see the band. We were in the bar at around 6 pm. The two US seancers introduced themselves (Chris and Tony), they'd flown over that morning for the show, I'm sure they'll post something about it when they get back. At least when Trevor gets his fanzine out to sell, people immediately know who he is and everyone gets introduced rather than everyone standing 'round going "I wonder if that's such-and-such". Another lad arrived soon after that, he'd worked the night shift and flown over from Scotland that morning.

Steve in Killyleagh It's great to see that there are other people for whom this was like a dream. He'd been a fan of The Church for 15 years but had never seen them live and now he was standing a foot away from Steve. Next to arrive was Anne Ward - I'll leave the Dublin gig review to you Anne, okay? We all went through to watch the soundcheck which featured a lot of covers including The Green Green Grass Of Home - that'll be a popular tape ! When we went through later for the show we met up with some other people from the list - Andy, Foz, Fergal (who'll tell the story of how he made Steve unable to sing the start of Milky Way). Someone else can give a review of the main set, I've got to go out now - if no one else posts anything I'll give some more news tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for making it a great weekend.

Cheers, Kevyn


Fergal replied to the following...
When we went through later for the show we met up with some other people from the list - Andy, Foz, Fergal (who'll tell the story of how he made Steve unable to sing the start of Milky Way).

Guilty as charged, I'm afraid, folks. An innocent little jest that backfired...

Our heroes began strumming the famous chord progression, and as Steve intoned, "Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty", I started waving my cigarette lighter above my head. Well, he must have spotted it, because he started laughing, and completely fluffed the next line. (One to tell the grandchildren about, I don't think.)

As per Kevyn's suggestion, I'm going to sit back and let Anne review the show. (Not to put you on the spot or anything, sweetheart. Heh heh...) That said, a personal highlight was the storming version of 'Tristesse'. It's always been a favourite of mine, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it translated to the 'unplugged' format. (Choice quote from Steve: "This next one is called 'Mistress', which rhymes with Tristesse. Which is quite apt, 'cause it was the mistress who gave me the tristesse to begin with.")

I also particularly enjoyed the passionate reading of '10,000 Miles', the sprightly 'Bel-Air' (the boys giving it *loads* on the "He can never..." finale), and 'Providence' - which was just awesome. The pointed rendition of 'My Little Problem' was harrowing - anyone who's au fait with current Church gossip will know why.

Obligatory altered lyric: "Can't you hear, Sydney's hidden in there", from 'Hotel Womb'.

Most heartwarming moment: SK and MWP rocking out at the back of the stage during the 'Milky Way' middle eight, in a 'Reptile' video style.

Most dismaying moment: SK hands his twelve-string to MWP in between songs, announcing, "I'm too stupid to work the guitar tuner." [Long pause, as Marty twangs in the corner.] Me: "Tell us a joke." Steve: "A joke? We're the joke. This gig's a joke." Which shut me up pretty fast, lemme tell ya. I discussed the incident with Andy (a.k.a. Black Coat) afterwards, and we agreed that a certain 'Starfish' couplet turned out to be more prophetic than its author could ever have imagined: "The guys with the luck get the bimbos and bucks..." I think you all get the picture.

A very special night, in summation - I wish you all could have been there. I trust the other Seance subscribers who attended enjoyed the show as much as I did, and I must say that it was a pleasure to meet you all in person.

Regards,
Fergal.


Tony
Just got back from the Emerald Isle ! What a trip ...!

Steve Kilbey / Marty Willson-Piper - Whelans, Dublin - Sat 17th January 1998

whe_m2s.jpg 5.45 K This small Dublin venue, with no more than 200 inside, welcomed Steve & Marty with avid interest; most with minimal knowledge of their work I feel, though there definately was a small contigent of Church followers What followed was a fantastic set of acoustic Church songs stretching through all their albums. My Guinness soaked brain struggled to remember the first track and the Marty track off Spirit Level - maybe someone can enlighten me ! So here goes ... Ritz, Shadow Cabinet, Tristesse, Mistress, Fly, Tear it all away, Disenchanted, 10,000 miles, Comedown, My little problem, Will I Start to Bleed, Providence (Jack Frost), The night is very soft, (Steve introduced this as 'obscure' - was it obscure new or old ?), Almost with you, Don't look back, Grind, Milky Way, Hotel Womb - encore - Myrrh. Marty was on top form as usual, playing his 12 string accoustic like a Gibson Explorer. He really has unbelievable enthusiasm for every project he touches. Steve was quite relaxed with his 'in between song sense of humour'. Songs were really tight with great acoustic touches. Dublin loved 'em !

Tony
Oxford, England


Anne Ward
skmwp1s.jpg 7.81 K Well... here I am at last. I feel a bit overwhelmed for many reasons. One - the obvious - being at Whelan's for this fantastic event. Two - the fairly obvious - being back at work with a ton of stuff to do. And three - the unavoidable - the fact that everyone seems to be beckoning me forward to give the review! Ulp!!

But first I do want to say what an utterly fabulous time I had, not just seeing Steve and Marty, but getting to meet so many Seancers and their friends. It really did turn out even better than I could have hoped, and I do look forward to seeing you again (maybe April???). A good omen right at the beginning was that pretty much opposite the hotel where I ended up was a poster advertising The Event.. ;-)

Kevyn and Fergal have already told you how the gig went, so there isn't much for me to add. I would agree that Steve seemed well and looked amazingly good. After sixteen years' preparation somehow I still wasn't ready with anything remotely lucid to say when introduced to him, though.. But thanks so much, Trevor, for making that happen! As Kevyn says, we gathered at Whelan's on Saturday night and went through to the soundcheck. I was somewhat overawed, as you can imagine, to be there, with just a handful of people (Kevyn, Trevor, Chris among them) with Steve and Marty a few feet away on stage. They actually treated us to an entire performance of "Lost", which they omitted from the set itself, and which was so moving. Always has been one of their most beautiful songs, I think.

mwpmads.jpg 4.76 K When they came on stage a couple of hours later, it was without any introduction - they just quietly appeared and started playing. As has already been said, they started with Tristesse, followed by Mistress. The set included a wonderful version of Hotel Womb (Marty really putting 110% into that!), Shadow Cabinet, Providence, Comedown, Milky Way, Almost With You, Don't Look Back, part of Already Yesterday, Ritz...

It's hard to say how long they were on stage (an hour? a little more? Somehow looking at my watch was fairly low down on my list of things to do at that time!) They briefly reappeared, Steve stressing that they could only perform one encore as there was a strict curfew to prevent noise disturbance. Oh well - it had to end sometime...

I have to say that, despite the odd disquieting moment/comment (eg, as Fergal reported, Steve's reply about the joke) they did get a huge response from the audience, which Steve acknowledged after about the 4th song. This was evidently very different from the previous night's warm up at Drogheda, so I hope that the fact they were so obviously warmly welcomed and appreciated at Whelan's will give them extra encouragement for the future. Trevor had introduced several of us to Steve, and pointed out how far each had come to be there, which I also hope is a valuable testimony for them as to how people still feel about them. Judging by the interest in NSEW and the Gypsy Stomp/White Star Line cd, there are plenty of others out there who agree with us about them. Let's hope the next development is a sound record deal and a great new chapter beginning in their career. We all know they deserve it more than anyone.

peoples.jpg 5.49 K Finally, a few thanks etc. to individuals. To Trevor (and Frank) for organising things, to Fergal for being such a gentleman and looking after my coat! And to Andy, Kevyn, Chris and all the other Seancers for turning up. It really was great to meet you all. Hope those who stayed on for the art gallery enjoyed that too. See you soon...!!

Anne


Brian Bannon
Church In Killyleagh 30 K Anne Ward captured the Whelans buzz perfectly, but she says they opened with Tristesse... not true, that was third on the setlist. They opened EVERY show with "Ritz", which to be honest, I think is the only song they play that they could leave out... Ritz seems to drag: is it just me? They've got such a brilliant back-catalogue of their own material, and all their own songs just piss on the covers.... In Killyleagh they played Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" (possibly as a humorous response to a restless native shouting "play something I know!"... more on that later...)

Tony in Oxford: The MWP song was "Will I Start To Bleed" (and what a version!) which they also played at all 3 shows I saw... It's a fabulous guitar piece and Steve backs up Marty perfectly on this one.... It's a really delicate song, and the second guitar was not in the way, but actually added to it....

dro_s1s.jpg 4.65 K Drogheda was much as reported.... The whole thing was a little surreal, something which I commented to Steve and he agreed. I mean, here were The Church... THE CHURCH!!! playing FREE in a back-of-nowhere pub in rural Ireland to a room full of friday night regulars who hadn't a clue who they were watching... Still, the vibe I got was that they requested they do a low-key gig to open the tour, just as a kind of warm-up... Sound was pretty poor at this gig...

Dublin: Well it rocked, didn't it. Sound was excellent, much better than the last time they played Dublin. (95 wasn't it?) That time, Marty was using a distortion pedal on his twelve string and it was very caustic. This time there was no noisy guitar solos, but perfectly executed, solid acoustic ones... Marty's skill shone much more this time... He really displayed his talent and passion... (Actually, overall, I think Marty was in much better form on this tour than when I spoke to him the last time they were in Dublin... He was a little blue that time... I think he said something about girl-trouble? This time, he was relaxed and handsome looking and smiling a lot...)

marty.jpg 21.61 K Killyleagh (County Down, near Belfast) was a bit like the Drogheda thang. A regular Saturday night crowd filled the venue (as they would do any Saturday) and they hadn't a clue who The Church were... The die-hards were there too though... (A pretty Italian girl and two Italian guys had flown over for this one...) Sound wasn't great at this gig: Better than Drogheda, not as good as Dublin... As the night progressed and the crowd got drunker, some local yokel started heckling Steve... Steve retorted quickly with a muffled impersonation of the Northern accent (he didn't actually SAY any words, but it was really quite an expert impersonation!) and then he directed a question directly at the heckler: "So, you read a lot of Jean Paul Sartre, then?"... Then, light-heartedly enough, Steve started into a California Woo-Woo monologue, which I can't remember exactly so I paraphrase: "Let's not fight, children. We're all brothers and sisters...". Marty, laughing, joined in with "Come on, let's READ together..."

Next song up after that was "Don't Look Back" and Steve changed the lyrics (for our heckler friend?) to "Keep it til you need it for a pretty smile for your UGLY face"....

I spoke to Marty before the final gig, and asked him how the tour had gone, and he told me "Galway was brilliant!"... I asked him how Connolly's in Leap had gone (it's a notoriously GOOD venue to see gigs at, but it's literally in the middle of nowhere and hard to get to) and he said "there were about 16 people in the audience...". What a bloody waste! The Dungloe Bar in Derry was "a bit rough" according to Marty. I think he meant the crowd, not the band.

Finally Fergal noted:
> The pointed rendition of 'My Little Problem' was harrowing -
> anyone who's au fait with current Church gossip will know why.

In Killyleagh, the final gig of the tour, during Hotel Womb, Steve sang the lines "I sift through the Smack, to that wonderful room..."


Marty Willson-Piper told me his impressions of the tour.
The tour was a real experience .Dublin was really good but we're not that known in the rest of Ireland and we played some pretty strange little gigs, from noisy bars to silent theatres.There was always a crazy fan at hand though who had records for us to sign that we hadn't made yet. N.Ireland was so different to the South. A little unnerving with the present troubles and it's kind of frightening to see soldiers on the streets.
The final word must go to an anonymous Irish girl that Tony Kern met...

Hi ... i thought you might get a kick out of this memory recall from the dublin show... it's heartbreaking but humorous... after a busy time juggling cameras and listening to the spectacular sounds of marty and steve... i eventually mingled into the busy post-show crowd and met a young irish lash [lass ?]... i told her we had just arrived that morning and it was our first day in ireland. she of course asked, 'why did you decide to visit ireland?' ( i felt a little awkward and a bit crazy telling her the reason i came to her beautiful country was to see a band in a small pub... but being the honest fellow that i am...) i responded 'to the see the church.' she said, 'church? what church?' i replied with dismay, 'the band, the church, the guys who you just saw playing!' and she said, 'oh... never heard of 'em.' !!!! - tk


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