One of the paradoxical pain/pleasure points of going to a quintessentially 90’s reunion show is that you never know what to expect. I have been kind of disappointed with reunion tours in the past, and with the exception of Bauhaus’s Resurrection Tour back in 1998, find they sort of crush precious adolescent memories. Another thing I find is that unless you’re Wayne Coyne, aging rockers are eventually going to get sick and tired of churning out the same hit tunes over and over in live performances and wonderful treasured songs will lose their luster. In otherwords, unless it’s a tour explicitly (and transparently) to make a lot of money, I think we should let these guys play whatever they want.
For these reasons and more, I had kind of grounded expectations for the Chapterhouse show at Lee’s Palace last night, but the band’s promise of it being a one time only engagement held a lot of allure.
We apparently have maestro Ulrich Schnauss to thank for all of this. At first I thought Mr. Schnauss might be the namesake of a premium German dog food giant but he’s a pretty talented shoegaze-influenced electronica musician. I missed about 2/3 of his set, but I liked what I heard. In terms of what I saw, I’m glad he at least had the foresight to set-up reams of video footage instead of having us tinker around with his computer the entire time, I just wish he had taken a cue from the Flaming Lips‘ video projections. Yeah yeah, I know not everyone can have pulsating vaginas and cartoon bunny rabbits on display, but there has got to be something more to a video display than trippy footage of buildings. It kinda reminded me of Broadcast’s show from last year, only fortunately with much better music.
Derek took this, not sure if it was with his iPhone but maybe him and Ricky can have an iPhone concert photography face-off.
As for Chapterhouse, they really surprised me. First off, let me say that it helps tremendously when you start hitting your peak as a band in your early 20’s. There weren’t any of the familiar gasps of “holy shit, they got fuckin’ OLD” that we heard at Teenage Fanclub. In fact, I’d venture to say that 80% of the band still looks downright youthful, leading me to believe that they’ve managed to live clean, normal lives. Maybe they’re all school teachers now, chartered accountants, or running their own records stores.
What’s better is that they actually still sound good. I still say shoegaze is one of the most forgiving genres if you haven’t kept your vocal pipes in top order over the years (and that’s not really what it’s about anyway), because these guys certainly still know how to shred their instruments. Frankly, I was surprised that more people weren’t wearing earplugs, because I could easily envision my hearing degenerating past the point of no return as a result of going to a show like this. I’d be the granny version of Abe Simpson, or Larry David’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But no, I think I’ve done enough damage to myself.
The good news is that the wall of sound thing is still great even with 31-NRR earplugs in, and the show was a great demonstration of the old adage that there is always a certain caliber of music that will always play well live. I feel this way even if the musicians choose to move less than a still-life painting, because you will never replicate the experience of hearing it at home like you will hearing it noisy and live. It helped that the boys seemed genuinely touched at the turnout and enthusiasm, and they were more bemused than anything else when obnoxious “requests” were constantly being shouted out throughout their set.
Here’s the setlist:
- Ecstasy II
- Falling Down
- Greater Power
- Something More
- Then We’ll Rise
- Precious One
- Rain (Beatles cover)
- Come Heaven
- In My Arms
- Love Forever
All in all, a grand evening.