Reviews

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.

NME Still Handing Out Shitty Reviews

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I don’t think a two star review for Ian Brown’s new album is going to hurt it a bit. In fact, this criticism will probably be forgotten, and soon because his records don’t seem to age a bit. The old NME doesn’t have the reach that it used to.

A new Ian Brown album is the arrival of something challenging and thought out, and it usually takes a while to hear what he’s cooked up. I remember when his first and third records dropped, and I really had to work at getting where he was at and what he was bringing into the fold. I’m glad I never gave up on him because his body of work is superb, it really is.

From what I’ve heard so far, Ripples is going to be a challenging album for the times, and that’s a damned good thing. Brown has incorporated his offspring and new grooves and new beats into what he wants you to have. First World Problems is a killer track, so I automatically don’t trust what the fucking NME have to say, as per usual. Listen to them and none of your favorite records make sense, do they?

Nah.