Tuesday March 14, 2023 was cold and overcast in the city of San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall. Fortunately, here was a break in the unprecedented rains so, while chilly, it wasn’t wet which made for a pleasant commute. This venue is one of the most elegant theaters in San Francisco. With it’s large balcony and intricate scroll work, it’s appearance is almost as visually appealing as the artists on stage. This time, it was The Church and their Hypnogogue tour. This tour was celebrating the “masterful masterpiece The Hypnogogue” according to Steve Kilbey. What a masterpiece it truly is. There was no opening band this time around. It probably was a good thing because The Church, musically, filled the night in abundance.
This stop, the third stop on the tour, was an epic sampling of their songs ranging from their first album, Of Skins and Hearts, from 1981 all the way to the soon to be released The Hypnogogue. The long set was 25 songs and 2 hours and 40 minutes and as far as the audience was concerned, they could have played twice as long with no complaints. One main difference with this show, was the strict “no video policy” that was effectively enforced by security. This made it a much better experience all around not having to dodge phones in the air.
The set started with “Ascendence” from The Hypnogogue and it was extremely well received. They played seven of the 13 songs off the new album and every one of them were great. Each song from this album had it’s own introduction that lent to the story that each song told. Towards the middle of the set, the band entered into the acoustic part of the set. This part was filled with up to three 12 string guitars at a time! The stripped down version were incredible. Stripped down version because they still had the keyboards and Steve’s electric bass.
The climax of the initial set was when they started “Under the Milky Way,” by far a crowd favorite. After a few more songs, they took their first break. 3-5 minutes later they hit the stage again for three more songs finishing with the iconic, “Reptile.” But, they weren’t done yet. The band hit the stage again, for the third time, for a relaxed “You Took” with Kilbey sitting on the drum riser for most of the song.
This set was amazing from start to finish. Everyone in attendance was totally in to it and I am sure the band felt the energy in the room. After seeing them at the Cruel World Festival last year (which they sounded great at), I was excited to see them in a more intimate setting and they did not disappoint. Also, I would like to give a shout out to the guitar tech who kept everything in tune the entire night. The band changes guitars almost every song and he kept everything running smoothly and sounding great.
The Church are:
Steve Kilbey – lead vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, guitar
Nicholas Meredith – drums, percussion, backing vocals, guitar
Ian Haug – guitars, backing vocals
Jeffrey Cain – guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Ashley Naylo – guitars
5). No Other You
6). The Night Is Very Soft (short tease)
8). Is This Where You Live (with spoken word intro)
9). The Hypnogogue (with band introductions)
10). Hotel Womb
11) Old Coast Road
13). Albert Ross
15). One Day
17). C’est la vie
18). Under the Milky Way
21). Second Bridge
22). An Interlude
23). Another Century
25). You Took
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Photographer of about 10 years, I have been shooting concerts for about 8 of those years. I started to get serious about concert photography about 6 or 7 years ago and now try to shoot as many as I can. I shoot mostly rock but, have done some country and big band stuff. I love music and since I am nowhere close to being a musician, this is a way I can be a small part of what, in the words of Henry Rollins, “gets me through the highs, the lows and everything in between”.