Live Video: The Church @ The Triple Door 6-15-09

Ron Henry

Ron Henry

When I told one of the interns who assists me that I was excited to see the special in-studio session one day, I had to stop myself. “Wait, you probably wouldn’t know them,” I said, but then added, “The Church.” Blank stare. “Under the Milky Way”? No recognition… whatsoever… Apparently, he was born the year I first saw them perform live… sigh.

But unlike some of the other bands I was listening to a generation ago, The Church never crumbled under the weight of their mainstream success, which they had with 1988’s Starfish, (though they did buckle quite a few times along the way) and they’ve maintained a consistently fruitful career amounting to 23 albums (including the latest, titled unironically Untitled #23) and nearly uncountable EPs, live discs, scores, and side projects. While not all albums have been equally received by fans and critics, there’s no doubt in listening to their new material that the core tenets of the band have lasted. Longtime fans will find the same atmospheric, psychedelic, emotionally melodic songs with moody electronics, suggestive lyrics and driving basslines from Steve Kilbey, tantalizing interplay between founding guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Wilson-Piper, and propulsive drumming from Tim Powles. If The Church ever had an original form, this might be a return to it, but really Untitled #23 is yet another chapter in one of the longest ongoing band’s musical legacy.

The band’s current tour, entitled “So Love May Find Us,” is taking them through a variety of mid-sized theaters — the Roxy, Slim’s, Harrah’s, Beachland Ballroom, the Rex, Irving Plaza (tonight!) — guaranteeing the lucky ticket holders of these sold out shows an intimate experience with a band they’ve likely been listening to for 20 years or more. At the beautiful Triple Door in Seattle, it was hard to find anyone under 30 not accompanied by an “adult,” who had dragged them along.

While many less lucky fans lined up at the door hoping to find space inside, those of us already seated, with our plates of Wild Ginger pad thai and glasses of beer and lychee coolers, watched labelmate Adam Franklin and Bolts of Melody open with a moody, shoegazing, but by no means slow or boring set. Having seen him last doing an acoustic set, I was blown away by the sonic depth of the electrified versions of songs from his two solo albums, particularly the blistering and epic set closer, “Ramonesland.”

more photos here

The Church, of course, were the main draw, and they announced right away with their set opener, “Tantalized,” dating back to the tour when I first saw them live (opening for Echo & The Bunnymen in ’86), that we’d be treated to a mix of old and new. More recent songs (“Pangea,” “Operetta,” “Deadman’s Hand,” “Space Savoir”) sat in perfectly with less recent (“After Everything,” “Block” ) and much older (“You Took,” “A Month Of Sundays”) ones. Obviously, not all of the their massive catalog could be represented, but they’d definitely be remiss if they had not performed “Under the Milky Way” — of course, they did, just before ending their main set with “Reptile” followed by “Hotel Womb” in the final encore. Hearing all of these songs together, played as energetically and enthusiastically as they were, you’d hardly believe that 27 years had passed between the earliest and latest songs.

Before the show that night, members of KEXP’s 500 Club were treated to a special set as part of our VIP Club concert series also held at The Triple Door, which we broadcast that same day. Kilbey and crew were dressed a bit more summery (i.e. not all in black) as for the later show, but even during the middle of the day they managed to transport a room full of people to their familiar darkly alluring corners. Here’s “Deadman’s Hand,” “Pangaea,” “Operetta,” “You Took,” and “Block” from the session:

View Ron Henry’s photos from the session here.

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  1. Pristeen
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    It continues to amaze me how a band of this caliber that has been around as long as they have does not register more with the younger set. I challenge anyone to name other peers of the Church who have stayed as consistent, creative, and continue to put out great records. Not many, that’s for sure.

    I’m glad the Triple Door was sold out, but it would be nice to see them fill the Paramount again, as I saw them in ’90. The Church deserves a larger audience. They are no flavor of the month, folks.

  2. Posted July 11, 2009 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Have loved this band for years and years. More music with this kind of subtlety and intelligence is needed in an age of vapid moronitude. Honed musicianship like this is rare as well. Besides, they’re very witty guys. I think their multiple releases of late and web presence is pretty much in step with what successful indie bands are doing and need to do. Psychedelia in a cynical age deserves to live, and live well…

  3. Andrew P
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    thank you so much for hosting these videos !
    do you have the rest of the show?

    we’d all LOVE to see every song from what was no doubt a great set.

    once again, thanks for supporting such an awesome band !

  4. Posted July 13, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    That IS all of the videos! Only five songs were performed for this radio broadcast.

  5. Posted July 15, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Long live the Church! Huge thanks to KLK for making everything more possible!

  6. Posted July 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for filming this great band and sharing them with the world! There’s so little multi-camera film of them (with good audio) so this is a real treat.

  7. Posted July 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    WOW!! Thank you for posting this. So awesome.

  8. Posted July 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Surely this footage must be coming out on DVD for all the Church fans around the world who don’t get to see the band live any more. The clips are fantastic, the band has never sounded better.

  9. Keith Solowoniuk
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    What’s there to say.. After all these years they are still #1

  10. Posted July 24, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to all that worked on the videos! I know Pablo V. has been wanting to put together good multicamera footage of the Church for years…

  11. Rob
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Fantastic; Adam bits would have been nice too, his first solo CD is a must. MORE videos please, and come to Japan!

  12. Robert J
    Posted September 27, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I was lucky enough to travel to DC from Atlanta to see them at the end of June. What a fantastic show!!! I’ve listened to the band since the late 80’s, and to finally see them was truly a moving experience. I can’t wait until the next cd and tour of the states. These clips are wonderful. It would be cool to see the entire show on DVD. The best band around they, hands down. KCRW also has a show of them in the studio when they were here this year. These guys are so damn good. I don’t know of many bands(if any) that have been this good for this length of time. Long live The Church!

  13. Posted September 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Head over to our Podcasting page at because this session from The Church is our current Live Performances podcast!

  14. john drake
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I live in Ocotillo California. Drove 3 hours each way to see them last June and doing so again next week.

    They put the best show imaginable on down here and fully charged and rested, they blew us the crowd and the the night away.

    What a never-ending band!!

    Who else puts out music year after year like them?

    ‘Nuff said,,,,,


  15. Dan B
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Ah, great stuff. Saw them in NH last summer. Sadly, the sound mix was so muddy that I couldn’t appreciate all the fine detail in this broadcast. However, hope to remedy that by catching their acoustic set soon and slapping around their sound man, lol.

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