Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Met a Faith Healer at the Khyber Pass

DC Michael here again with my review of Th' Faith Healers at the Khyber (took me all weekend to get to a PC).

After a thick traffic, 4 1/2 hour, drive up from Washington and a nightmare of trying to find free or cheap parking around 2nd and Market, my buddy and I entered the Khyber a little tired but still excited for the impending show. The Khyber turned out to be a nice, intimate venue attached to a crusty little rock-n-roll bar - just our sort of place.

We hung out at the bar talking music and listening to the two opening bands, both Philly locals including War on Drugs, who brought out a very large crowd. The first band sounded like the Throwing Muses which we decided was a good thing, then War on Drugs came on and dished out a little Philly Psych for us which sounded pretty nice.

Surprisingly a lot of people left after the two local groups played, leaving a decent sized but plenty of elbow-room crowd for Th' Faith Healers. In the end that worked out nicely for us though as Th' Faith Healers turned out to be extremely danceable.

Th' Faith Healers put on one of the best sets I have ever seen live. Watching this 4-piece from Hampstead, UK rip through the highlights of their discography was awesome. The entire band was on point, as if they had never stopped playing since their 1995 break-up. The rhythm section, bassist Ben Hopkin and drummer Joe Dilworth, laid down a powerful beat that got the entire crowd moving. Vocalist Roxanne sounded perfect, still singing with that sexy mix of brit-pop sweetness and grunge howling. And guitarist Tom Cullinan played with such perfect and seemingly effortless genius that he is by far one of the most impressive axe-players I have ever seen (and I seen a bunch)!

Cullinan created a stunning, wide-ranging, noise-racket with minimal pedals and without changing guitars once during the entire set. Watching this first generation shoegaze master at work really put the new scene of gadget-and-pedal American shoegazers into perspective. Th' Faith Healers are old school and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Th' Faith Healer's set left my friend and I both speechless. At its end we shouted something incomprehensible at each other, jumped in the air, and high-fived in an over-excited music nirvana moment.

After the set, we had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Roxanne who was hanging out at the merch table. Slightly in awe of her, after having just watched her dominate on stage, and having not expected to meet her, therefore having no recording materials or questions prepared, I walked over and introduced myself as a fledgling rock journalist for MetroBlogs and asked her two impromptu questions. What follows are those two questions and my paraphrasing of her answers:

Michael: So what did you and the band think of this limited US tour?

Roxanne: It was a blast (or something to that effect). We didn't expect that much interest in our music in the U.S. anymore but we met appreciative fans at each show.

Michael: Of the six dates you played, which did you enjoy the most?

Roxanne: Actually we played seven dates, two in one day in Austin. I'd say the two best were our second gig in Austin and the gig tonight in Philadelphia. The one in Austin was our first real gig in the U.S. in over 10 years and there was an nervous energy that went away thanks to the great welcome from the crowd. Tonight's gig had that same energy.

Michael: So good energy bookends.

Roxanne: Exactly.

Originally published on April 3, 2006 as a guest writer on Metroblogs: Philadelphia.

This review got me some attention from the band (who reposted it) and from fans of the band all over the US. First time I felt a little big-time.

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