Archive for the 'Music' Category

The Church channel spirits in Michigan

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

[For those interested in some great video of the Church live on the “So Love May Find Us” check out: http://blog.kexp.org/blog/2009/07/08/live-video-the-church-live-at-the-triple-door/ ]
My wife graciously granted me the rare opportunity to make a pilgrimage to see the Church (http://www.thechurchband.com/) at two tour locations. (Thank you Collen. I love you.) I eagerly seized the opportunity and hopped in the auto for two consecutive nights: once to Grand Rapid’s The Intersection and once to Ferndale’s Magic Bag.

The two venues couldn’t have been more different. The Intersection was a fine clean place for a Church concert. However the acoustics of the cavernous concert hall left much to be desired. The spot near the sound mixing station towards the back of the hall provided the best sound at least for my ears.

Adam Franklin & The Bolts of Melody took the stage first. A decent band. I am considering exploring their discography, but this post is not about Bolts despite how good they were.

Things haven’t changed much with the Church. They took the stage in their usual order: Peter Koppes, Steve Kilbey, Marty Wilson-Piper, Craig Wilson(on keyboards) and Tim Powles. The first event of the concert was of course an equipment mal-function. A low murmur (a FM radio signal?) resonated on the amplifier. Steve’s first response to this was “We are channelling spirits tonight.” The audience laughed and the band proceeded to perform despite the mal-function. The murmur was troublesome for many of the quiet moments in their set list. The alleged spirits and the crowd put Steve on edge a few times.

I suffered through the poor acoustics up front for about 5 songs then I thought better of missing the best part of the concert, the lovely melodies crafted by the band. So I moved towards the sound mixing station. It was phenomenal to see the guitar work of Marty and Peter up close. But it was even better to hear the guitar with clean acoustics in the center of the room.

The stand out songs from the play list on this night for me were:

  • Block
  • After Everything
  • Almost with You
  • Pangea
  • Reptile (I loved the intro, Steve’s best impression of a snake.)

All in all, the Grand Rapids concert was a great Church concert. I thought nothing could top it until…

The Magic Bag is an old Movie Theater renovated to be a small concert space / bar. There are tables through out the space and wait staff to deliver beverages to everyone’s thirsty throats. Moving around this venue is a little harder. So I stayed near the front to the right about 15 feet away from Marty.

The acoustics at the Magic Bag were much better than the Intersection and there weren’t any “channelled spirits” at this concert. All the instruments could be heard clear as bells. The boys played their hearts out delivering one of the best live performances I have heard them play in years.
Highlights of the set list for me at the Magic Bag were:

  • Block (again)
  • North South East and West
  • After Everything (again)
  • Deadman’s Hand (again)
  • Pangaea (again)
  • Reptile (again)
  • An Interlude
  • Hotel Womb

A Church concert wouldn’t be complete without a performance of “Under the Milky Way”. Both nights the rendition of this song was solid however it was vastly inferior to the performance of “Reptile” from the same “Star Fish” album. At the risk of disappointing fans, I think the band should consider retiring “Under the Milky Way” for a tour or so. Maybe this absence of play would increase the band’s fondness for the song.

Steve was slightly agitated in both performances by hecklers on his left. However he compensated for his slight temper with amazing vocals. Peter and Marty played remarkable as they always do. Timothy Powell, the band’s tremendous drummer, played astonishing sets. I personally would like to thank Timothy for restoring the band to their former glory. Someday I will be pleasantly surprised to see a live performance of “They Come in to Take Your Place” with Tim on the vocals.