The Church Live at the Heights Theater

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The Church have been on tour again here in the states and they are not to be missed. I cannot emphasize this enough—if they are even remotely close to where you live in the weeks ahead, go see them because this is a band that cannot be equaled in a live setting.

To see them in the relatively small space of the Heights Theater in Houston was one thing. To experience their current live show is another miracle in and of itself. When The Church come to the states for a show, they are as stripped down as possible—there are no extras, no guitars left unplayed, nothing left to the imagination. They present themselves so well you can’t believe they’re not playing arenas.

In the front row, your could see parents with young children, and all I can say is, in twenty years, you won’t see anyone like The Church playing live in that format. Guitar music is fading away, and the level of musicianship is without equal. This is a one-time deal. There is no one playing this way, and no one capable of ever recreating this level of professional achievement. No one else has a catalog like they do as well. And, at no time have they ever really peaked. There are tremendous songs and albums in every decade of their existence.

I would have been happy with all newer songs, but it was great to hear them roar through Starfish in its entirety. The Church are not a nostalgia act. Every song is reworked, reimagined, and experienced anew, and all of the parts are shuffled around. Having heard them live ten years ago, they sound the same but different in all the good ways.

This is still a band that can amaze. Adding Ian Haug to the mix changed the atmosphere but not the spirit of the songs. In a live setting, you are still getting Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes’ versions of the parts and their overall vision of the band. But, really, you need to see Tim Powles on the drums to really appreciate what the band has evolved into. At one point, he is banging away, one handed, and shaking a tambourine in the other. Another moment, and he’s smashing the drums with the tambourine, nothing ever out of place.

If I could change one thing, I would ask them to add Jeffrey Cain as a full member of the band and make it a five piece. Really, he’s more than a utility infielder. His ability to balance guitar, keyboards and vocals makes the whole show complete. He took Marty’s riff on North, South, East & West and ran with it.

This show was worth the drive there and back again. It was the highlight of the year for me in terms of music.

The stage at the Heights Theater, just before the band came out to play

The stage at the Heights Theater, just before the band came out to play

The full band, from L-R: Peter Koppes, Jeffrey Cain, Tim Powles, Steve Kilbey, Ian Haug

The full band, from L-R: Peter Koppes, Jeffrey Cain, Tim Powles, Steve Kilbey, Ian Haug

Steve Kilbey

Steve Kilbey

I don’t take a lot of photos at shows. These were taken during pauses or moments when it was possible to be unobtrusive about it. I definitely do not use a flash and I did not record anything being played.