posted on March 2, 2011 at 3:45 am

Chaos Reigns In Philadelphia – 15th Feb 2011

I’m about a week late, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on The Church live in Philly last Tuesday, February 15th.

I’ve seen a lot of concerts in my day. Well over 500. A lot of times after a show I’ll think “that was incredible! That had to have been one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen”. Then, after a bit of time passes and  excitement and buzz wears off, I’m able to put the show in to perspective and admit to myself that I’d seen a great concert, but probably not one of the best I’ve ever seen out of 500 plus concerts.

However, last Tuesday night was not the case. The Church concert at the Trocodero indeed WAS one of the best shows I have ever seen! Easily in my all time top 10. Quite possibly in my top 5!

Why, you may well wonder?

EVERYTHING about the concert was SPOT ON.

The venue was fantastic. A wonderful old fashioned theatre (I understand it was an old burlesque house). Great site lines no matter where you were (I was 5 rows back on the floor) and the sound was mixed SUPERBLY. I can’t remember how many times a concert I¹ve been to was spoiled by poor sound. Not at the Troc. And kudos to the theatre for putting chairs on the floor for us. Standing for over 3 and a half hours would have been an ordeal (especially for us older folks!. The venue and whomever was at the sound board both get an A+!

The crowd was terrific. I know there were concerns about ticket sales several weeks ago, but the venue was pretty well jammed. The balcony was really rocking. It was definitely one of the best (the best?) attended Church concerts I’ve been to since 1998. I understand that without the folding chairs on the floor that the venue hold about 800 people. There had to have been 400 to 500 (probably closer to 500) fans. What a great turn out!

And the fans were AWESOME! I was STUNNED by the amount of younger fans at the show. I’ve seen 27 Church concerts since the 1980’s, and this had to have been the first time since those heydays that I’ve been surrounded by younger fans. I saw a few kids that were under 12, and a lot of people in their 20’s & 30’s. I met a wonderful young couple that drove in from Columbus. If you’re reading this please drop me a line! I truly think I witnessed a new generation of fans that have come into the fold because of “Untitled #23” and all of the incredible press the album received. The band must be thrilled to see so many new, young faces in their audience!

Everyone in attendance had a great time and showed it with their applause, screams and yells. A good loud crowd that was respectful and attentive throughout. I don’t think I can count the number of standing ovations the band received that night! It was a privilege to share the experience with everyone in the room!

One of the very best moments/sensations was when the band came out and started playing “Priest =Aura”. The looks on everyone’s faces were simply PRICELESS! We were all positively beaming; radiating with incredible joy and excitement to finally hear this album played on our shores. I will treasure those faces and the glee we were all feeling for as long as I shall live!!!

Oh, and there’s the matter of this band we all love called the church

Can there possibly be another band that plays and sings better NOW, 30 years in to their career (!!!), than when they were young pups?! I can’t believe there is, or ever will be.

Marty and Peter have always been incredible players. They seem to have a telepathic ability to know what to play, when to play, and when to hold back. But they’ve really honed their skills over the years to what is close to PERFECTION as any two players sharing a stage will ever achieve They are both a marvel to watch and listen to. Their talents are truly stunning, and their playing this night in Philly was some of the best guitar playing I’ve ever heard! I loved how the guys all switched between guitar and bass all night. What versatile players! I think Marty really enjoys playing bass (and he’s wonderful at it).

I know that there is a lot of love on this list for Richard and Jay Dee, but in my opinion Tim Powles is HANDS DOWN the best drummer The Church have ever had. What he brings with his talents in the studio are well documented on record, but the man and his many talents need to be seen and heard live on stage, most especially with the full on electric Church experience, to be fully appreciated. He has just the right touch on the drums. Nothing flashy; Tim doesn’t need to be that way. For this band his playing RIGHT on the mark. And his vocals have brought a whole new dimension to the band since their “comeback” on the “Hologram Of Baal” tour (on which I witnessed 6 concerts!). Tim is a perfect complement to Steve as a backing vocalist.

And young Craig Wilson is a great addition to the live line up. He really is a “jack of all trades”. He played keyboards, sang back up, and used a multitude of guitars (and mandolin) during the show. And A+ to both him and for the band for recognizing what he brings to the live experience.

Finally, Steve. He was always a “star” during the concerts back in the 80’s and 90’s. You always wanted to watch him. The guy is like a magnet! But nowadays Steve is a front man of epic proportions. It’s hard to takes your eyes off him. You want to hear and see every little nuance he brings with his vocals and his performance. Steve’s voice has gotten BETTER AND BETTER over the years. He sings better live now than he ever did way back when. Again, how often can you say that about a performer?! Steve has become one of the most theatrical front men in music. The man is simply CAPTIVATING!!!

Finally, the performance. It was SPINE TINGLING!

“Untitled #23” went down really well. Not everyone in attendance was familiar with it, but everyone was spellbound by the performance. The album is really meant to be listened to as a whole rather than as individual tracks, and to experience it live in it’s entirety was a treat I will always treasure. Steve sang unaccompanied by his bass for several numbers. These were some of the highlights of an evening full of highlights. ‘On Angel Street’ was my favorite moment of the first set. The band turned it in to one of their live epics. Steve’s performance was incredibly moving. You just couldn’t take your eyes off him. WOW! ‘Anchorage’, with it’s “cast of thousands”, was another awesome moment. I’m going to attach a link below so you can see and hear for yourself. Steve exudes rock and roll in this clip!

“Priest=Aura” not only lived up to every expectation I had coming in, but the performance EXCEEDED my wildest hopes! The band came out in different clothes (Steve with his skull shirt!) and the band was bathed in red light for much of the set; very apropos for the album. Behind the band psychedelic colors (again lots of red) pulsed and radiated. ‘Aura’ had everyone transfixed. It was a real thrill to hear ‘Feel’ live after waiting 18 years! The band played it so very well. I’ll never understand why it wasn’t a hit all those years ago. I hope the guys will add it to their live set in the future as it went down extremely well with the audience. It received one of the many standing ovations of the night. And yes, ‘The Disillusionist’ and ‘Chaos’ were everything you could possibly hope for in a live setting. They were my personal highlights of the night. Steve’s performance of ‘The Disllusionist’ was one of the greatest spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. The extended lyrical ending was awesome. Again, the words spell binding come to mind. ‘Chaos’ was the band at it’s best. The guys were working at the peak of their powers. Words cannot adequately describe these two songs, so again I’m going to attach links to the performances. Turn them up loud and enjoy!

The crowd was extremely pumped up by the time the guys came out for “Starfish”. A lot of fans came aboard the ride with The Church when this album came out in 1988, so there was an incredible amount of emotion during this set. The band really fed off it. Again, a change of clothes (Steve looked especially dapper in a dressy outfit). Wish I had a good picture I could share. Almost every song received a standing ovation. The crowd went wild for ‘Destination’, and the first standing “O” came after ‘Milky Way’. Lots of people got up and danced and swayed. ‘Blood Money’ was a real treat to hear after all these years. The place went bonkers for ‘NSEW’ and ‘Reptile’. Again, many of us danced along with ‘Reptile’. Marty received one of the loudest ovations of the night for a fantastic version of ‘Spark’. I’ve NEVER seen Peter smile as much as he did after singing ‘A New Season’. He was BEAMING from the crowd reaction! The whole band was beaming after a killer ‘Hotel Womb’. It’s obvious the band love playing this song. I was surprised at the thundererous reaction the crowd gave “Starfish”. I thought everyone went bonkers for “Priest=Aura”, but the third set really took things to a new level. The looks on everyone’s faces (band and audience) were priceless. Worth the price of admission, as they say (and worth every bit of my 12 hour round trip drive).

This show was much more special than my mere words can convey. The band and audience were one, and the church really delivered. The guys fired on all cylinders. What a way to end the 30th anniversary celebration! I dearly HOPE AND PRAY the band will release a DVD so everyone who couldn’t attend one of these shows will get to share in the experience!” – Randy LeMasters, Pittsburgh PA

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