Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Church Live at the Heights Theater

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.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] 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 [/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] 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 [/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] Steve Kilbey Steve Kilbey [/caption]

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.

Monday, April 15, 2019

You Can Take Forever to Finish An Album

The idea of a new Metallica album does not interest me in the slightest. They can put out all the records they want, but I won’t be listening to any of them. That does not mean I am anti-Metallica or anti-Heavy Metal. I just listen to other things.

I have always thought that Metallica was the first major band to stand up against the piracy that ended up destroying the music business in the early 2000s. Albums are not free, nor should they be. So, when Lars Ulrich took all that shit for pointing out that, if you don’t pay for music, then there will be a lot less of it that you will want to own, I could tell that his heart was in the right place.

People have made a lot of music since the early days of Napster, but the resulting business model meant that there weren't any viable record companies to ensure that artists would get paid for their work. This ended a lot of promising careers and left musicians with no sustainable means to make a living. So, it’s great that Billy and the Funkerbeans put out all those free tracks, but I’m not exactly burning up the Internet trying to find them.

Kirk Hammett needs to have a long talk with his fellow band members, and make a decision here:

Metallica‘s guitarist Kirk Hammett has admitted that he feels “uncomfortable” over the long wait fans have had to endure with their previous albums.

The band had an eight year gap between 2016’s ‘Hardwired…To Self Destruct’ and 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’.

And it’s looking like they won’t be getting into a recording studio any time soon with the guitarist confirming the band will not finish their current world tour until November 2019.

“When I was 13-14 years old, bands put out albums every year,” Hammett told Mixdown. “Seriously, KISS put out an album every eight months. None of this eight years between albums.

“None of us are very comfortable with the fact it’s been so long, because that is a long time. We’re hoping to avoid that this time around.

He added: “We’re in our third year since ‘Hardwired’. Maybe we can get a bit more focus and go into the studio a bit sooner. I have a ton of material. I’ve over-compensated, so I’m ready to go anytime.”

Nowadays, the old model of album/three-singles/EP to hold you over/album/three singles/quickie live album/break just doesn’t cut it anymore. In approximately their first four years of putting out music, U2 released a slew of independent singles, Boy, October, War, the A Celebration single (which has vanished from their canon almost entirely) and then put out The Unforgettable Fire. That’s an amazing run. In five years, the Police literally put out five incredible albums and then told everyone to fuck off.

There’s no pressure anymore. There’s no fear of being dropped, no institutional memory of what it means to be on the charts, no need to have product in the stores because, umm, there are no stores (and Record Store Day doesn’t count). So Hammett doesn’t have to put anything out.

What they could do is innovate. Go back and figure out how to make EPs work. Or set a deadline and work towards it. This comes out on x date with x songs and if we only have three of them done, that’s what is released. If we have 20 songs by x date, that’s what comes out. Let the fans bank on that.

I don’t know what you could even do anymore. Someone has an answer, and it’s probably Billie Eilish or someone like that. They’ll be the new innovators, and then maybe we’ll all stop buying video games as if they were Led Zeppelin albums.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Midnight Oil is Back on Tour This Year

So close, and yet so far. If I was still living in Stuttgart, I would definitely go see them at Killesberg park, one of the finest I have ever been to.

Their tour of Germany is like a kick in the nuts. I have been to the Porta Nigra - I have no idea how they’re going to play a concert there. In the plaza behind it? Who organized this? I didn’t even know you could play the Porta Nigra.

I am hoping that the stars will align some day and I will get to see them.