Keith Smith (email@example.com)
Ed. note: Keith is my brother and is currently in possession of a digital camera, a Kodak DC280, which was used to take the pictures he referred to. I'm going through them right now, so check back soon...you'll be impressed :) !
I really like digital cameras ! The freedom of being able to take pictures without using film is terrific. You can read more about digital cameras at Kodak's Digital Learning Center. Briefly though, a digital camera uses computer memory to store pictures instead of film. Most cameras will let you see the pictures immediately, using a small screen on the back, so you can discard bad shots ! You can then transfer the pictures from the camera to your computer at home, and your camera is ready to go again ! Here's just two of the pictures Keith took...
Pictures by Keith Smith using his brother's DC280 :) If you'd like to browse through the pictures as they came out of the camera (about 200K-400K each) you can look through here. Just remember that it's a "point and shoot" camera, and the dim lighting in a concert means that all the shots were taken at a slow shutter speed (1/6th of second).
What an amazing night of action! This was definitely a Three Change of Underwear(tm) show for all involved. We got there around 30 mins before the opening band, there were still tons of great vantage points to be had. The Bluebird is a fantastic venue, with great sound. The floor is elevated as you get further from the stage, it's almost impossible to have a bad spot.
Before the show, I went into the bathroom with the camera to work out how to shoot it without the flash going off. Wouldn't you know it, 3 guys show up in the bathroom while I'm taking shots...
*smiles nervously* "Yeah, it's my hobby, coming into the bathroom and getting a few shots of guys doin' their thang before the show.... standard stuff, really".
I got the camera working and made for the stage before I got lynched (except for one of the guys who seemed rather pleased I was there *shudders*).
The opening band was just great, and the crowd was very accepting of them, especially after the singer said "We know you're all here to see The Church, so we're going to make this as quick and painless as possible." It turns out the guitar player, Todd, had bought tickets for this concert before finding out he was going to open for them! Todd and the drummer met the band after the show. Peter and Todd got into some pretty technical discussions about the music, from memory.
The concert itself was astounding. They came out looking a little tired (and who can blame them?), but warmed up pretty quickly. They weren't plagued by some of the technical problems from the previous concerts. At one point there was a bit of feedback and Steve looked a bit irrated. Peter was also forced to change guitars (twice?) due to some kind of problem.
Dialogue was pretty minimal..."thank you". "thank you". "thanks a lot". "thanks". "th". "". :) Actually, someone yelled out "Unguarded Moment" as a request (*sigh*), and Steve just said "Don't be ridiculous". They had some kind of a problem before one of the songs and Steve said "talk amongst yourselves, we'll be back in two minutes". They fixed it immediately, though, and they started playing seconds later.
The new songs went over pretty well, and they played quite a few from Baal. My favourite for the night, though, was Day of the Dead. I moved closer to Marty to get some good shots (it was too hard to get to Peter's side, otherwise I would've taken many more shots of him). His first solo went well, but he cut the second one short...looking kind of uncomfortable. He stumbled a little bit and just looked at Steve, who immediately went onto the next verse. My hopes were revived, however, when he got CLINICALLY TOUGH with it at the end. He started fiddling the effects unit...adding more and more delay. He'd strum a chord...fiddle with the box...strum a chord, fiddle with the box....strummed a final chord, put the guitar DOWN and attempted to void the warranty on the ffects box!! There was no fade in the delay, so the sound wasn't going away in a hurry. He changed the pitch and delay with such smoothness that Tim was able to pick up his tempo and start drumming with it! I completely lost the plot. Gary, winner of World's Most Vocal Church Fan '99 gave birth to twins. :)
Peter was fairly subdued for most of the show, though he did strut around a bit during Tantalized. He later told me that it was kind tough to hear the other guys in the band because of the "hanging PA" of the venue. Apparently, the PA usually adds reinforcement to the overall sound, making it easier to hear everything. He seemed happy enough on stage, though...
The last song was a big event. Marty ended up ripping all his strings out, one at a time (see pictures), until he was left with just one. Steve and Peter give him a lot of room...probably because they ran the risk of getting whipped with the strings.
All in all..an amazing concert.
The guys were great to talk to backstage. There were no passes, anyone could wander down. Someone came in there asking them why they didn't play more 'poppy' stuff like Under the Milky Way and *cringe* Unguarded Moment. Tim said, "who sung those?"
"Yeah, but we're not them...we're The Church One Step Beyond"
The guy was thoroughly confused and curled up in a little ball. *artistic license drive engaged!*
The band was suprisingly talkative and playful considering how tired they looked. Marty picked an awful place to sit in the room and was constantly showered by water coming off bottles being pulled out of the ice bucket. He made a big fuss about it :)
This was the best concert I'd ever seen. Everything just came together. I hope you all enjoy the pictures. I did my best without a tripod and flash. All shots have 1/6 sec shutter speed.
It was great to meet people, and well worth the drive from Texas IMHO. It was especially refreshing to see Church fans off ALL ages at the show, young and old.
We caught Marty before the doors opened in front of the Bluebird. Just before he headed over to eat Thai (yum) across the street, I asked him what his policy on shooting pics was (as I had my camera). His reply: "I really don't give a fuck, and if you want to bootleg the show, make sure you do." Just in case, I took my Press pass if the venue had any problems with it. They didn't, so I shot the show. I'll be posting a review online at the paper here, and will let you know when it's up. All pictures will be here as well.
It was great fun to see Marty ripping the strings off his guitar at the third encore, during Cortez the Killer. Unfortunately, I missed those shots when I ran out of film!!
It was very moving to see Steve cry during the show, once during Buffalo and again during Two Places at Once. The man knows his music. I didn't think he looked so much tired as down. I have no doubt it was related to his memories of the city, and the times he used to spend in Denver. I was completely touched.
Brian says: You can read Donnette Thayer's stories about her time with Steve in Denver...perhaps this is the connection ?
The Chuch was unbelievable. Contrary to other shows, there were no real visible technical problems. I stood behind the soundboard with a great view. They sounded tight and I think that they all were enjoying themselves. Without question, the highlights were Grind and Cortez the Killer. Marty was energetic and animated as he always is, bumming cigarettes and lights from the crowd. He demostrated his wizardry, tweaking the dials creating that amazing sound during Day of the Dead. Peter was mostly subdued during the show, I later heard him say he was having a hard time hearing the other guys because of the PA system that was hanging. The show ended in an amazing fury with Marty methodically breaking each string of his guitar after Silver Machine. I'm only sorry it all had to end so soon.
After the show as everyone cleared out, we went to the back stage curtain and asked if we could go on back. The bouncer says" Yeah, go on." I couldn't believe it would be that easy, but it was. We went down some stairs and at the bottom was a tiny, brick covered room, and the guys were all sitting there with about 6 fans. I found all of them to be very friendly, candid, and talkative. I was a bit overwhelmed to be there and mostly listened to all the technical questions and requests for them to play older material. (Must have been Keith I was standing next to that was there taking the pictures? I look forward to seeing them.) They did invite us to have a drink with them and we talked very casually. My friend Brad asked Steve about the inspiration to write his favorite song, To Be In Your Eyes off of Blurred Crusade and he said it was about shiela named Kelly who has long since gone. Tim said they were taking their time on the new album to make sure they get the sound they were looking for, but it was going well. Jokingly, I said to Marty about the awesome string breaking that " thats no way to treat your guitar!" and with a big smile he says :it sure the F*** is!" It was a great moment. We talked about other things, but I could tell he was tired. My time with Steve was spent talking about Shadow Cabinet, to which he said that he and the guys were very proud of the work thats been done. He said "Its great free advertising!" I thanked him and told him how important their support is so that information gets out to people who don't have good press coverage on the Church in their area. In Denver, it would probably not have been possible to find out about the album or concert without the web page. All ranting aside, it was a magical time that I won't forget ever. Why didn't I bring my damned camera.
First off: the venue. For those who've never been there, the Bluebird Theater is a cool old place set on Denver's famous Colfax Avenue, in a somewhat gone-to-seed, but not too overwhelmingly sketchy area of town. The place has got a nice atmosphere to it, an attractive interior, great sound and an excellent, intimate set-up for seeing live bands. Definitely no complaints whatsoever on the place.
The show itself was fantastic. I've waited seemingly forever to see the Church play, and $15 and a 10-1/2 hour drive each way is no skin off my back considering how satisfied I was with the concert. There were no technical problems of any note for either the Church or the opening band, and the performance (as far as I could tell) was pretty much flawless.
The opening band was a local Denver act called Decanonized, and they were certainly a nice fit under the "goth" category in your local record shop. Some people would likely take issue with a "goth" band opening for the Church, and yes, they were a tad on the dreary side (I think I've had my fill of minor chords for the next few weeks), but they were good at what they did. The drummer, in particular, was excellent, and I did enjoy watching him play during their show. The lead singer (who was female, for the record) definitely stole some stage mannerisms from good ol' Siouxsie Sioux, which was kind of funny, but she could certainly belt out the notes when she needed to. She was actually quite humble and apologetic at the beginning of the show, winning some sympathy from the audience as she promised to "get it over with relatively quickly" so everyone could see the band they came for - The Church. All in all, not a bad opening act, though I must confess that their performance and music paled in comparison to that of the Church.
The Church came on a little after 10:30, opening with "Hiroshima Mon Amour." Steve and Marty looked really good, but Koppes appeared unenthused and Tim seemed a little on the tired side. No particular surprises on the set list in relation to the previous gigs, although they did skip Louisiana and, of course, Reptile (these were, however, written down on the actual "set list" - a copy of which I managed to snag post-show). I found it interesting how they played the Hologram and P=A songs in blocks. . .it certainly worked well with the P=A tracks though, as a set mood seemed to blend the songs together. It was great to hear both Dome and Kings live too, I must add. The show really picked up around the time of the new song, After Everything, and didn't slow down until the final encore.
Highlights: Well, this is my first Church concert, so this list may be somewhat long. After Everything is a great tune. . .I do actually think there is some commercial potential in that one. Myrrh rocked really hard, and I was shocked by how much better all the HOB tracks sounded live (Anaesthesia was brilliant!). Marty's playing on Grind was absolutely top-notch. . .seeing him live made me realize what a talented player he is. Peter wasn't behind by any stretch though - the solo he ripped out in Cortez was simply awe-inspiring. I don't think I even need mention how amazed I was by some of the sounds he was pulling off throughout the show either. Truly an incredible combo, those two. I was generally unexcited about the prospect of hearing Two Places live (thinking it was going to be a bit boring and slow-paced in comparison to the rest of the show), but I was very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. And Destination and Tantalized were just plain superb. . .I don't think I could give them justice in a description right now.
After the show, my friend and I hung around in the Bluebird to see if the band would turn up at all. I brought along a couple cd covers to get autographed (give me a break guys. . .I've been waiting ten years!), and I also purchased Steve's book before the show. The place gradually emptied out, and our chances inside were looking rather thin, so we eventually wandered outside, hoping our options would improve there. There were a few people standing out in front of the place when we exited, but it wasn't long until they took off. Rather than call it quits and head off though, I decided to follow a couple guys that I saw walk down one of the alleys towards the back of the place. Good move on my part: the two happened to be looking for the band themselves and actually knew where to look since they ran into Steve and Marty at this same location last October on the HOB tour. So, we talked for a while and watched the roadies pack up the gear. One of the guys asked if the band was still around. . .sure enough, yes, they hadn't left yet. We probably had to wait about 25 minutes or so, but finally (quite a while after the roadies drove off) the door opened up and out popped Steve. Obviously quite familiar with the usual post-show run-in's with fans, he came right up and started talking to us, first getting a light off of one of the guys who was with us.
Steve was in a good mood and very talkative (with his usual witty, sarcastic remarks). My friend asked him something about Cortez (to the effect of how they came to choose that song as a cover), but rather than answer, Steve moved in really closely, stared my friend right in the face, took his glasses off and then asked "Can I try them on?" My friend (a tad bewildered, I'd wager), said "Sure" and then Steve put them on and said in a hilarious voice "Your library books are all overdue, sir." Everyone thanked Steve profusely for the excellent show and naturally asked a few casual questions here and there (can't remember 'em all, myself). I did manage to ask "Is there any chance of you guys pulling something out off of Seance again?" and he quickly replied "No. Never" with a smile. I laughed and asked him if it was because he didn't like the album, which he basically said "No, it's not that." Another guy wanted to know why Blurred Crusade was skipped this tour and then Steve basically explained the dearth of old material on the tour with the analogy of "Well, do you still wear the same clothes that you wore 17 years ago?" Fair enough, I guess, and everyone agreed, "Good point."
Peter appeared around that time and everyone called out his name the instant they saw him. He looked around jokingly as if he didn't know who we were addressing and then immediately came up to talk with everyone as well. He was very jovial and talkative (perhaps a little drunk, judging from the bottle o' spirits he was carrying?), obviously not at all bothered to ramble a bit with the fans. I talked to him about the Refo:mation album after someone brought it up, and it was obvious he was very proud of it. I asked him if indeed it had all basically been improvised as rumored, and he confirmed it and then went on about how he kept punching in random tracks of guitars and such while Steve developed and laid down lyrics. Overall, a very interesting conversation.
Marty eventually appeared, although he was considerably less talkative than the others. Maybe he was a bit tired, but he seemed unenthusiastic about talking to anyone, and quickly made his way to the van. Tim was the last to come out, and he pretty much went straight to the van, almost as if he felt like it was the others that everyone was there for. He was nice when I talked to him though, and quite happy to sign an autograph. Finally, they all piled in and everyone said their goodbyes after the signing was all done. One funny note: perhaps as an example of his fatigue, Marty signed Steve's book along with the HOB and Starfish covers that I handed him. I just gave it to him so he'd have something to write on, and when I started to reach over in expectation of him handing it back, he started signing his name at the top. Hehe....oops?
All in all, an amazing night, and certainly the most fulfilling first Church concert that I could imagine. I definitely got my money's worth; major Church fan or no, this concert ranks up among my top three of all time (if not the very top). My friend isn't really a fan and was familiar with only a small fraction of the material, but he was still thoroughly impressed with their performance. Next tour, I'd like to be able to talk a little more casually with the guys without coming across as just another annoying fan just there for the autographs and all. . .I figured for this one though, I'd take advantage of the opportunity for a few souvenirs. Not that it's bad to ask for autographs necessarily, but I bet it gets old after a while.
Looking forward to the next concert!
The set list was
1. Hiroshima Mon Amour 2. Ripple 3. Dome 4. Kings 5. New Song 6. Myrrh 7. Anaesthesia 8. Tranquility 9. Buffalo 10. Grind 11. The Endless Sea 12. Two Places at Once 13. Destination 14. Tantalized ENCORES: 15 Day of the Dead 16. Cortez the Killer 17. Silver Machine
Overall, it was a very, very good concert. It wasn't quite as good as last fall's show at the same venue, but it would be hard to scale those heights again. Last year's show was one of the best live concerts I've ever seen.
The opening act was Decanonized, a local Denver group. Not too bad, but the guitarist sure broke a lot of strings. The Church took the stage at 10:30, and they played for a total of one hour and 50 minutes.
The band's energy was down a bit from last year. Steve actually looked sick. He kept pushing his sweaty hair away from his face, and during breaks when he wasn't singing, he kept rubbing his eyes, like he was exhausted. The crowd was pretty good, and at times the band was feeding off the crowd, especially Marty, but it wasn't one of those "magical" shows.
Steve said "thank you" quite a few times, and at one point said "Don't be ridiculous" to someone's request for a song (I didn't hear which one). He played his 4-string Fender bass throughout the show, except for when he played Marty's guitar on the new song. As usual, he stared off into the balcony when singing, although he kept his eyes closed while singing the lyrics to the new one.
We showed up about 45 minutes before the doors opened, and Marty was out front talking with people and signing autographs. I stupidly didn't bring any CDs with me, but he did sign my little journal notebook that I brought along to record the setlist. He played very well on stage, and seemed to be enjoying himself and the fans.
Peter was his usual low-key self, though he did get a little animated during Grind. I really liked his guitar work on Cortez. For some reason (maybe it was my location in the crowd), I noticed Tim a lot more than last year. He was really driving Ripple and Day of the Dead.
The songs from Box of Birds had a nice live edge to them. I though that Hiroshima is kind of an usual pick for an opener, but I really liked the live version. Cortez was probably the highlight of the evening for me. The crowd's favorites were Grind and Tantalized.
All in all, it was a nice show, and it was worth the drive to Denver (though I wish they would have done Louisiana!)
Bob from the cultural wasteland known as Colorado Springs
Here is where I want to mention the problem I had with the concert. First, the sound equipment was set so loud and had significant distortion, I thought, but not being a technical person, I may be mistaken. Anyway, the lyrics were especially hard to make out, particularly in comparison with listening to the group on CD, and the subtle nuances of the guitars and especially the vocals couldn't be detected. In particular, my one favorite aspect of the entire group, which seems to seldom be discussed by anyone, but again I think is the highlight of the entire Church entity, is Steve Kilbey's wonderful voice. He hits the most excellent deep, low pitches as a singer on the recordings. I don't know whether it was the sound setup, or the song selection, or the more frequent practice during the concert than on the CDs of doubling a Steve low vocal note with an identical pitch on his (tonight much louder) bass quitar, but I was very disappointed that I didn't seem to get the full impression of Steve's voice.
If anyone can give me some feedback on all of this, I'd appreciate it.
--Paul Bloede, Denver, Colorado
In what may be the most "hard-core fan" thing I've ever done in my life, I flew all the way from Washington, D.C. to Denver, Colorado to see The Church play live this weekend.
"Why don't you see them when they come to D.C.?" you may ask. Well, to make a long story short, I had a prior commitment that thwarted my initial plan to see them at the 9:30 club. I was quite bummed at first because I've always loved their music but due to cruel twists of fate had never had the chance to see them in person. Just as it looked as if I would miss them again, however, my brother-in-law saved the day by inviting me to come see them play in Denver. A free frequent-flyer plane ticket and a place to crash made everything nice and affordable.
Well, I was definitely not disappointed. Actually, the show was one of the best I've ever seen! Kilbey, Koppes, Powles, and Willson-Piper have one of the most beautiful, well-developed sounds in the music world, and it translates beautifully live. I wasn't sure if they'd be able to deliver as lush and powerful stuff on stage as they do in the studio, but if anything, they only demonstrated that they are even more intense in person.
I was extremely pleased with the set list. They opened with Hiroshima Mon Amour, one of my favorites from Box of Birds. I didn't write it all down, but highlights included Ripple, Dome, Kings, Anesthesia, Buffalo, Destination, Myrrh, Tantalized, The Endless Sea, Grind, and Two Places at Once. There was a "new song" thrown in there, presumably off of a forthcoming release or a b-side I haven't heard, that was absolutely amazing. Day of the Dead and Cortez the Killer made great encores, with Marty deliberately breaking every string on his guitar in a wild ending to the final song of the evening: Silver Machine.
Marty's constant energy was riveting. Steve and Tim were the space men, clearly entranced by their own creation. Peter was quiet and calm and precise throughout. He threw a pick right to me but I missed the catch and someone next to me wound up with the priceless souvenir.
Every song sounded wonderful; my only complaint is that they didn't play longer! We brought at least three people with us who knew very little if anything about the band (didn't they do that Milky Way song back in the '80s?), and they all seemed quite impressed as well. My hope now is that we'll see a live CD or a concert video in the not-too-distant future.
Hats off to one of the most genuine, prolific, insightful, and soothing bands in the world! Hope you keep it up for a long time to come!
As was last year's show, this year was beyond belief. The set list was similar, if not the same, as the previous shows so far. The crowd was definitely excited about their most popular work i.e., Grind, Destination, etc., but I, as well as the audience, especially enjoyed the Priest=Aura and HOB material. Selfishly, I would have bribed for UTMW or Metropolis (yes I do like the GAF album), but I equally have an interest in their more recent work. I was saddened to hear from Steve after the show that their Memphis recording session(s) have been cancelled... If not Memphis, then somewhere else maybe (Brian: Yes, the recording has been moved to Sydney) ? As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter if it's Memphis, Chatanooga or ten-buck-two, just so this most amazing group of musicians continues with its spirit and gut-drive for creating the most pleasant sounds available... The guys were more than gracious about staying after the show, and given their rigid schedule, I, as well as the others waiting in the cold, appreciate their time! These guys rocked/soothed/smeared me with color, and those who are in the path, you're in for an unbelievable event... Highlights (for me): Tantilized, Grind, Anasthesia, Day of The Dead.
Jim in Denver
Personal faves were Dome, hypnotic and mellow with Peter playing some very tasteful lead and the end of the song, Kings, Buffalo, Endless Sea, and Two Places at Once (I like Peter's 'bluesy' guitar). I have seen the Church live five times and Steve's singing has never been better. He was able to sing without shouting and his voice sounded so nice live and in person. I feel very fortunate seeing them two time within one year! It would be nice if they would tour again after the new disc! Wish we could have said hello after the show, but figured we wouldn't be able to and after a week of school and work and the drive we were both spent. Brian, too bad you can't get the guys to go online and let us know what they think about cities, venues, crowds, setlist, etc...
If you are trying to decide on attending a show, go!, the band seems to be in top form,
My personal favorite of the evening: `Buffalo', which simply soared. Biggest surprise: `Two Places at Once' (not one of my favorite Church songs) was gorgeous, with a moody, mysterious opening. All this and the Refo:mation CD for fifteen bucks. (Hey guys, how about doing `All See it Now' on the next tour?)