Pictures of this show can be found at here
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS The Church are the best kept secret in the music business. There is little question that hearing them live is the way to go, in fact. This was my first Church concert. It will not be my last.
The opening band, Baby Ray, was not up to snuff. Too many key changes. They had the advantage of being on the same record label as the Church, but that's where the similarities end. Everyone (about 250 people?) at the Paradise politely awaited the entrance of The Church.
At about 10:15, the sounds of the dance-mix "Under the Milky Way" could be heard. It's not a bad rendition. The band then ripped through a spirited and technically brilliant set, including (I think I have the order correct):
Observations: Marty Willson-Piper just loves playing music. He was very animated, changed guitars frequently, bummed smokes from the audience, and was wildly applauded during his singing on "2 Places at Once." Peter Koppes was brilliant, but very quiet. At one point, he struck up a conversation with some girls down front, and smiled politely. Steve Kilbey was all business, and enjoyed poking fun at the Bee Gees, with a very quick a cappella rendition of "Massachusetts." He then said, "Marty, why don't you finish that song for us. No? Well, everyone can come back tomorrow and hear Echo and the Bunnymen perform it." This was also Steve's way of poking fun at himself, after saying, "Thank you, Toronto." Tim Powles was terrific also. He really hammered it home on "Endless Sea," and "Tantalized." I am really looking forward to their next studio album of originals. They are in peak form right now. Let's hope they will tour the USA again next year. All of us should drag friends to the next concert. You will have a great time. Best, Rob Cushing.
p.s. Thank you Brian Smith for total dedication and conviction for a truly wonderful web site. You have helped the band a great deal. All of us fans owe you a huge debt of gratitude. It's my pleasure Rob...I just put together everything people send me :)
The band played for two solid hours following the previously furnished set list to the letter. Hiroshima Mon Amor was a solid opener. Silver Machine was an explosive ending and everything in between was the fabric that held it all together. Highlight songs of the evening for me were: Anasthesia, Dome, Kings and Myrhh; the latter highlighted by a more lush and melodic sound due to Peter using less distortion on his guitar during the intro.
Marty was his usual extroverted self. Tim and Steve actually smiled and joked frequently. Steve at one point yelled as Austin-Powers like "Yeah Baby." Peter was his usual stoic self immersing himself in the music.
All in All the night went perfectly from our vantage point except for a few sound problems. Apparently these same sound problems were the cause of the only low point of the evening. Peter threw a pretty obvious temper tantrum, slamming his guitar down and storming off the stage during Cortez The Killer. He returned for Silver Machine though and all again was well.
Before the show, we were lucky enough to have met Peter, Tim and Marty. Marty was the most outgoing of the three. I think he would have chatted all night had he not a female companion tugging him away from us towards the back stage door. We eagerly await Marty's solo tour and visit to Boston again, with the hope of chatting a little longer next time!
Hiroshima Ripple Dome Kings After Everything (this is the spelling on the set list) Myrrh Anesthesia Tranquillity Buffalo Grind Endless Sea Louisiana 2 Places Destination Tantalized 1st encore Day of the dead Reptile 2nd encore Cortez Silver Machine
Louisiana and Reptile were omitted from the show. The show, of course, was fantastic. The band was right on despite an annoying hum that plagued the sound system during the first few songs. The band took it in stride and played on. Unfortunately there was no set up for the video playback mentioned at other shows, but the entire show was being video-taped. Met the band outside before the show and they were very gracious with their time and autographs. Towards the end of the show something pissed off Peter and he threw his guitar across the stage and walked off (a common occurrence lately, it seems). He was back for the next song, however and whatever problem he had, was fixed. A great show overall-song selection, band spirit level and crown reaction.
We got to the club while the opening act, Sugar Baby, was playing. They were nothing special--just a lot of noise in my opinion. What a let down when they came back for an encore!
When that rendition ["disco" Milky Way] ended, the Church came out shortly after 10 I think and the crowd went wild. At this point, I was standing up on the balcony on the Peter side with a nice view. The floor in front of the stage was packed of course, but the rest of the club was kind of empty.
I couldn't resist to go downstairs by the stage, so I spotted an opening in front of Peter Koppes and stood there for awhile. He looks the same and acts the same on stage. Still very skinny and shy looking. If I caught his eye, he would immediately look away as if to say "Don't look at me while I'm playing my guitar." Most people seem to be giving their attention to Marty. You're right, Peter needs to be "mothered," he needs all the support he can get.
Into the second song, "Ripple," Stu's girlfriend, Patty, coaxed me into moving to the other side of the stage. She just wiggled me into this crowd of people so I was now standing 3 rows back between Steve and Marty. This is where I remained because I had a clear view of everyone, especially Marty who I was probably wearing the same clothes from last year and probably the year before that and so on. He was also drinking Sam Adam's Oktoberfest and chain smoking. He and Steve were in a great mood. They were smiling and seemed like they were having a great time. At one point before a song, Steve held his hand up to one ear and did his Robin Gibb imitation of singing the opening line of "Massachusetts." Pretty funny. He also started singing "Destination" with a "whoa" as we all did during each applause. I think, again during the same song, changed another line and filled it in with "....Greek and Latin." He was quite the comedian that night....
People got really excited when they played Ripple, Myrrh, Grind, Destination, Tantalized, just to name a few. There were two women near me drooling over Marty. I of course agreed with their admiration! Cortez the Killer was also a favorite. I can never get over the way they play Tantalized. That song stood out for me last year as well. I remember watching the speed of Steve's hands on his bass and thinking how orgasmic it all seemed! Then watching them play it again on Sunday, I had the same thought. Not only did I watch Steve on bass but this time I had a perfecto view of Marty's hands. His hand was strumming or plucking so quickly that it was a blur! Amazing! Pretty erotic, I think.
I also remember from last year at a DC show how someone leaned over the stage at the end of the show to grab the set list. Well towards the end of the show, I was only 2 rows back and when standing on my tip toes I could see Marty's list taped to the amplifier. I thought that it would be a nice souvenir for my friend. When it was obvious that they weren't coming back for a third encore, I went to reach for it, only to have this blond woman in front of me snag it first. However, while I was in the ladies room, Stuart went up to one of the roadies and asked for Tim's set list. They didn't want to give it to him, but after a little pleading, they handed it over. I did notice on Marty's list that someone had handwritten at the bottom, "Please play 'Unguarded Moment.'" I kept hoping that they'd surprise us all and actually play it, but no such luck!
Oh, forgot to tell you...At one point I smelled a joint in the crowd figuring someone in the audience lit up. After the show Stu told me how Marty leaned over behind one of the speakers off to the side and tried to light a used joint. (I was totally oblivious to all this--must have been having a staring contest with Peter or something) He got frustrated when it wouldn't light so an audience member lit him a match. Marty then took two hits and then passed it to Stu! who then passed it on to someone else.
The Providence venue, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, happens to be my favorite venue on the planet, and the sound setup was perfect for their more transcendent stuff. There were several points where I found myself, in the dark, clutching my plastic beer cup to my body, swaying as if I were outside of my body. Both the band and the crowd were fairly subdued. I had brought a friend who hasn't heard much of the Church at all, and I was eager for him to hear the songs in all their rolling lushness, which normally is hard to do in a live setting, what with huge distortion and all, but I was happily surprised.
The second night, at the Paradise, was both different and the same. The club itself was new to me, and was extremely cool, sort of a cross between a metropolitan drug den and some modernist's idea of an urban Greek senatorial house. Again, the sound was very good. This time I brought a date, who I had taken special care to warn that I was in all likelihood going to completely space out. Unfortunately, the music didn't quite do it the way it had the night before. Maybe it was me; I don't know. It was still a very good show, and for the first time in three shows I wasn't twenty minutes late... They did two encores, finishing up with Silver Machine.
It's perhaps the ultimate in vanity that I say this, but I think I just might have made Mr. Kilbey laugh at one point in the evening. I was directly in front of him, about ten feet behind the crowd, sort of in an area by myself, wearing bright blue and khaki, so I'm sure I stood out amongst the multitude of black clothing if one cared to look. My girl had come over to me and I was playing a sort of silly kissing game with her, to make her laugh, and when I looked back up at the stage I could have sworn I saw SK smirk for a second. It was probably my imagination, but it was rad to think I got a chuckle out of him.
After the show, we went in search of a Yoohoo, which my girl had prophesied would resolve my beerish nausea, and, after a fruitless search, returned to my car by way of the back alley behind the club. To my amazement, we strolled right past Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes hanging out outside. They were within whispering distance, but I didn't want to bug them, as they were already in the middle of a small clutch of fans. Peter, the lucky fellow, had a tall blonde engaging him in semi-private conversation. Content to be in the general vicinity, we walked away a short distance, and sat on a wall along the back alley, and watched their small caravan slowly drive off.
It was a cool weekend.
By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff, 10/06/99
he Church, an Australian quartet fronted by singer-bassist Steve Kilbey and guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, is a serious-minded band, more interested in pensive, brooding meditations and dreamy soundscapes than ''good-time'' rock 'n' roll. The group has hit two peaks in its 19 years, the first at the onset with a self-titled debut and the second in 1988 with ''Starfish,'' featuring its biggest hit, ''Under the Milky Way.'' The Church of 1999, with newcomer Tim Powles on drums, avoided those reference points Sunday night during a two-hour show before about 320 people at the Paradise, opting instead for an ebb-and-flow set of more obscure catalog choices and cover songs. (The covers came from the Church's latest, ''A Box of Birds,'' an all-covers album that seems both a creative holding pattern and a fond nod to artists who inspired them.)
The opening five songs, beginning with ''Hiroshima,'' were languid, mid-tempo numbers - caressing guitar waves, world-weary lyrics, blurry vocals, low spark. Interesting, up to a point, especially in the tone and texture of the guitar-playing, but laden with a lulling sameness. With ''Myrrh'' and ''Anasthesia,'' the Church turned it up several notches and Willson-Piper let loose with a couple of semi-frenzied leads. Yes, action!
Then, it was back into the soup for ''Tranquility'' and ''Buffalo,'' until a dramatic version of Iggy Pop's churning ''The Endless Sea,'' where the ocean takes on cleansing but dangerous characteristics. From that point, about two-thirds of the way in, the Church was on a roll. The set climaxed with Neil Young's ''Cortez the Killer,'' with its crashing crescendos, and Hawkwind's ''Silver Machine,'' a careening space-rock and sound-effects boogie in which Kilbey and company shed the introspective aura for good and jumped upon that silver machine, phasers set on stun. Give 'em points for the generosity of the set (its length), dock 'em for omitting crowd favorites (no ''Reptile'' either), and admire them for persevering, by continuing to play intelligent rock in a dumbed-down era.
Boston's Baby Ray, label mates on Thirsty Ear, are smart rockers, too. Their opening set was both terse and shimmering, a minor- and major-chord shuffle that worked on a subtle level and then went gloriously over the top on the closing ''Train Wreck.''
This story ran on page E02 of the Boston Globe on 10/06/99. © Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.