Steve Roach May 19 2007 concert/Gathering review
- It was a homecoming of sorts driving down the PA turnpike from
Harrisburg to Philadelphia once again for a Steve Roach performance
at St. Mary's Church on the U. Penn campus. I've seen Steve work his
magic live every chance I could over the years, starting with his
1997 show at Huston Hall! Hard to believe it's been almost ten years
And while I was at virtually every Gathering since that '97 show for
years, my obligations and scheduling have made it impossible for me
to attend any in the last couple of years. Fortunately, everything
worked out for me to make it back to see Steve.
Anticipation was high, as my girlfriend and I arrived fairly early to
get a good spot in line. Despite a slight mist and occasional rain,
the line quickly snaked down the walkway, with the overheard bits of
conversation in the air that only come with that amazing community
that shows up for The Gatherings. The crowd has become notably
larger and more diverse than I remember, perhaps due to the online
streaming of Star's End.
Once we made it inside, it wasn't long before the place filled up,
the lights were lowered, and Chuck welcomed us back. Jeffrey Koepper
opened up, and was a great choice. A flawless, well-paced, and
perfectly timed opening set that took us on quite a ride! I wasn't
that familiar with him, but I was very satisified with his
performance. Some very interesting textures and smooth transitions
from energetic to spacey back to sequencer-land. Some of it seemed
in a similar vein as what Ian Boddy has done at times. A fine job,
Once again I was reminded that there is nothing quite like
experiencing live electronic music played through a high quality
sound system in an appropriate environement. Anybody else feel that
something is lost when a synth is recorded, no matter how high-
quality the recording & playback equipment?
During the break, I headed back to the bathroom, and while standing
in line again a conversation started regarding Steve and his past
Gathering performances. Some new faces and familar faces in line
also chatting about Steve. The anticipation was high.
Making it back to my pew just in time for the lights to dim while the
smell of sweet incense set the mood. And there was STEVE! A huge
round of applause before he even played a note, which is notable in
itself. Then we got ready.....
After a while, the video screen behind him came to life, showing
desert imagery that eventually gave way to a fantastic sequence of
some of the best, trippiest computer animation that I've seen. Steve
continues to raise the bar with his multimedia presentations over the
years, and this was no exception. I was a little surprised by the
end that there was no digeridoos, or the cool little shakers &
percussion instruments that would sometimes pop up in his past
performances (loved the dripping water that he looped last time in
Philadelphia to start the show), but this performance was indeed
unique. No guitars this time.
While Steve has always had a very deep quality to his music, with a
smoothness and unique stage presence that comes from years of playing
live, his set seemed to touch on some of the deep drones that
reminded me of The Magnificient Void at times, and then moving into
some of the more electo-rhythmic areas, then to drifting sythn
spaces, and back again. The rear speakers brought extra depth to the
sound world we were enveloped in.
I've never seen Steve boppin' around like this time during parts of
the show; at one point I thought one of the tall equipment racks was
shaking so much it might fall over! Steve really gets into what's
And by the way, the lights were absolutely perfect for both sets.
Jeff Towne really has gotten very subtle for the most part with the
lighting, but also created a very cool part at the end, with the some
of the watery lights coming over part of the audience. Very
effective, and well done.
The one thing I did notice was that the sound overall seems a lot
louder than I remember at previous Gatherings. The peaks got almost
*too* loud at times during the peaks in both sets, but it just might
be me and my position (fifth row center). The sound was always full
and powerful. Hard to imagine folks drifting off to sleep like in
past shows, but sure enough the fellow in front of me was almost
horizontal for a lot of the show. Only at a Gathering.
After a while, the set wrapped very slowly, with some teases at the
very end. I was hoping for a reprise, but no it was indeed over and
the applause went on and on. Yet another standing ovation for an
amazing performance by the master.
As we left, there was sign on the door: SOLD OUT. A packed and happy
crowd lined up to talk to Steve. Hard to believe he would make to
WXPN in time for the radio concert later that night.
It was wonderful to be back! Chuck and the gang really have a great
thing going with The Gatherings, and it's no surprise that folks
around me traveled from many points, some far away, to take part in
this very unique experience. I'm so glad that it continues.
I've been a huge fan of Steve, and his shows are always incredible.
Nobody gets that primitive tribal feeling (among other areas he
visits) across quite like Steve. It's like being transported into a
desert dream circle. He really sets the bar higher each time, and
I'm so grateful that he continues to perform. Go Steve!
- It was a very good show indeed. even my 10 year old daughter liked
I thought I saw a few people recording the show. I'd love to get a
copy. Contact me if you did record it.
- Yeah, I believe you hit right on the money with that review. For me, it
was probably the best concert experience I've ever had. After
confirmation, I have also determined that the person mentioned
being "almost horizontal" for most of the show, was actually me. I was
feeling a little under the weather just before the show began, and
found myself needing to lay my head down every once in awhile. But let
me tell you, it had no bearing on the experience whatsoever. If
anything, I started to feel better as the show progressed. After it was
over, I finally got up and went to the restroom, then I got in line to
meet Sam (from Projekt), who was selling the merchandise, and
ultimately... Steve. One of the two must have done the trick because I
started to feel alot better then. After pretty much everyone had left,
I finally left too (around 12:30am) and began the two hundred mile
drive home back to Culpeper, Virginia. I listened to the live show that
he did on the WXPN Star's End radio show on the way back, and it was as
if Steve had never stopped playing back at St. Mary's; like the show
was still progressing. It really was amazing. Everything about the
night was. Oh, and likewise about any info on the recordings of the
show. Hopefully Steve and/or The Gatherings will release an official CD.
- dear joe,
i'm glad you and bonnie were able to make it out to see steve
roach on may 19th. thanks for the great review! i hope you'll also
be able to come out to the artist workshop we've put together
with robert rich and ian boddy while they're in town for the star's
end 30th anniversary celebration concert. the workshop is on
sunday 17 june 2007 in the parish hall of st mary's and will start
at 7pm. i'll see everybody there!
well, i finally got the chance to post some of jeff towne's photos
of steve roach at the gatherings. have a look at:
it was a great night! thanks for your support!
>--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "joeolnick"
> It was a homecoming of sorts driving down the PA turnpike
> Harrisburg to Philadelphia once again for a Steve Roachperformance
> at St. Mary's Church on the U. Penn campus. I've seen Stevework his
> magic live every chance I could over the years, starting with hisyears
> 1997 show at Huston Hall! Hard to believe it's been almost ten
> since then.