Top five favorite bands: The Who, Love & Rockets, The Church, David Bowie, The Beatles (not necessarily in that order at any given time).
With that as a background, Darla and I went to see The Church (their MySpace site has more information and is more up to date) last night in San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. It was a great show. Absolutely fantastic. Steven Kilbey’s voice is as captivating, smooth, silky, and enrapturing (is that a word?) as ever — even if he does look more like Lemmy these days than the charismatic and removed figure of his youth — and the band’s chops have only increased with time.
Indeed, one of the things I enjoyed the most was hearing so many songs played differently than their studio originals. Firstly, the guitarists (Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes) had only acoustic guitars, which provided for mostly, but not entirely, more mellow-interpretations of their work.
Above and beyond that, however, the band wasn’t afraid to play with their own compositions. There was a bossa nova version of "Almost with You" (I forgot to write down which tune that was, but I think it was that one), and lines from "Atmosphere," "Heroin," and "Because the Night" that were snuck into the middle of Unguarded Moment.
We also had a great introduction for "Under the Milky Way," that included a list of all the TV shows the song has been used on, including a forensic show called Cold Cuts. Accordingly, Steven sang "Sometimes when this morgue gets kind of empty…"
And we laughed.
One of the highlights of the night, though, was the almost lounge-lizard take on "Reptile." The song leapt about with utter abandon, changing from a hard rocking assault to a soft, laid back, piano-driven number with a jazzy beat throughout the 8 minute performance (the piano played the moving part throughout the song, which was interesting to me in that I have such strong memories of the original video with Marty playing said part and trying so hard to look cool).
"Reptile" ripped through the audience one way or another, and when an older fan next to me saw me again on our way out, he turned to me and said, "Man…That version of ‘Reptile’ was like…’Snakes on an Astral Plane,’ man."
Indeed it was.
The show was intimate, just a few hundred people in a great venue, and our seats were just above the stage, looking down. The Church is just as vital (to me) today as they were at the height of their limited fame in the late 1980s, and at least as interesting. I have their latest album (Uninvited like the Clouds) on the way for reviewing at iPodObserver.com.