Published Oct 08, 2010The return of Chapterhouse might not have generated the same kind of buzz as the reunions by fellow shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver, but to their devoted, mostly grey-haired fan base, it was just as meaningful. Sixteen years after their last stop in Toronto, the Reading-based band were met with a hero's welcome.
With their amps cranked to 11, Chapterhouse broke into instrumental "Ecstasy II" with the intentions of decimating some eardrums. Their eyes set square on their feet, the five members lived up to their former self-celebratory scene, as co-frontmen Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman acknowledged the crowd but stayed true to form with little interaction.
For a band that were often overlooked and under-appreciated, they made some questionable choices with their set list, giving the impression that this tour wasn't about trying to secure a legacy. Playing nearly all of their 1991 debut album Whirlpool and bringing out opener Ulrich Schnauss to contribute some keys on the brilliant "Pearl," Chapterhouse virtually ignored most of their other catalogue. With only two songs from their second album, 1993's Blood Music, the rest of the set consisted of strays, like their Beatles cover "Rain" and the Freefall EP's "Inside of Me," which ended the show. There's no denying the thrill in hearing the band almost flawlessly run through Whirlpool, but the massive void of forgetting singles like "She's a Vision" and "Mesmerise," made the gig unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
Schnauss was the perfect choice for an opener, having played a part in the band's reunion, but his updated take on a sound Chapterhouse helped cultivate was lost in his one-man execution. Though his minimalist approach was able to surround the entire room, his newfound reliance on beat-dominated soundscapes spoiled the dreamy crescendos he's built his reputation on.
Overall, it was difficult not to walk away from this promising double bill with your head down, yes, gazing at your shoes in disappointment.