Less than a week after James, I got to see the greatest complete line-up I’d ever seen: Locals Fjord Rowboat, and my all-time favourite electronica wizard, Ulrich Schnauss, opened for classic shoegazers, Chapterhouse.
A friend I was going with knew Fjord Rowboat personally, and he gave me their albums a couple weeks in advance so I would know what I was in for. Their albums were outstanding. They could easily qualify as a major-label act. I got a mid-career Catherine Wheel vibe out of them. A particular stand-out track was Paragon (Click to listen). The only thing is maybe they were a little too similar sounding to those early 90s shoegazer bands (of which Chapterhouse qualifies as too), but it was great to hear here and now.
Regardless, it was the first time in ages I actually wanted to see an opening act. They played as if they’d been doing this for years. Everything sounded and looked great. Nice equipment too, which they were actually lending to Chapterhouse.
Ulrich Schnauss is someone I discovered a couple years ago courtesy of my brother, and Kim at Penguin Music, and just became completely infatuated with his music. Chapterhouse was an influence to his sound, and Schnauss has often tried to bring the indie aesthetic to electronic music. (Check out Goodbye: I think he succeeds incredibly well there. Previous albums are more pure electronics and more ambient.) Reviews of the event (see bottom) have alluded or mentioned that Schnauss was actually largely responsible for this reunion tour.
Unfortunately, his set did not seem to go over particularly well with the crowd. They were there for guitars, and he just sat at his computer mixing in Ableton Live, occasionally throwing in a live keyboard accompaniment. He played a long time and people seemed to start getting bored. I heard several remarks about how he could have just hit ‘play’ and left the stage. He had visuals of European cities and vistas shot from a moving vehicle, but the screen was too large for the Lee’s stage and sat off-kilter behind drums and other equipment. The effect was much better when I saw him perform at The Rivoli three years ago. He should tour with a vocalist.
I knew all his albums backwards and forwards yet the only track I recognised was Never Be The Same, the introduction to Goodbye. I managed to catch a clip:
Before publishing under his own name, he’s been known as ‘View To The Future’ and ‘Ethereal 77′ and probably several other names I’m not aware of. I recorded the following because I absolutely loved the sound of it, but I have no idea what it is. I don’t know if it’s coming to a forthcoming album, or if he was just mixing some of his older music:
And then came Chapterhouse. To be honest, as slick and amazing as their albums were, I didn’t know what to expect from a reunion tour 20 years later. I walked in completely blind. (YouTube footage had actually scared me off from going to go see The Happy Mondays, but they are a special case…)
I was completely blown away. The years had been entirely kind to them, though it certainly helped that the band were only in their very early 20s when Whirlpool first came out. They still looked reasonably youthful, but more importantly sounded amazing; their voices still sounded syrupy and young.
It was a vastly better experience than seeing shoegazer legends, My Bloody Valentine was. I guess it was my fault for not doing my research before, but I had been unaware that MBV had a reputation for holding some of the world’s loudest ever concerts. It was so insanely loud that people were passing out and vomiting in the crowd. I was worried this was a shoegazer thing, but Chapterhouse didn’t depend on the volume gimmick, just textured swirly psychedelic, even danceable, guitars.
The show was phenomenal and certainly made me re-evaluate (and raise) Chapterhouse on the scale of legends-of-shoegazer.
The rest of my photos can be found here. Before the show I contacted the venue and asked on the Facebook and Last.FM pages if anyone knew what the camera policy was. Andy Sherriff of Chapterhouse was kind enough to contact me and let me know the band wouldn’t mind.
Some other reviews of the event:
Something nifty that came out of this: the gentleman that runs gtamusicscene.com noticed these photos and asked if I’d mind contributing to his blog in exchange for concert tickets. The first show I did for him was Bruce Peninsula.