Over the last decade, indie rock has witnessed its fair share of reunions with My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, Pavement, and Blur, among countless others, taking to the stage to resurrect old hits. Two generations—one that saw the band when and another that likely wasn’t born yet—are then linked, ultimately delighted in having had the chance to see a band’s final curtain call. There's definite joy in that.
Chapterhouse, however, has to be one more of the more unforeseen reunions. The Reading, England shoegaze outfit only issued two albums (1991's Whirlpool and 1993's Blood Music) and a handful of now out-of-print EPs prior to fading into obscurity in 1996. And as alternative rock continued to transpire across the U.S. during the mid-nineties, it was up to their peers, Lush and Ride, to carry the (albeit brief) torch. But for those who were fascinated by a reverb-heavy, swirling sound that forced us to stare at the tops of our shoes in the purported "Scene That Celebrates Itself," Chapterhouse's contribution was absolutely essential.
To see them remerge for their first U.S. tour after a nearly 15-year hiatus is a surprise, but a welcomed one. The lineup—Andrew Sherriff (vocals/guitar), Stephen Patman (vocals/guitar), Simon Rowe (guitar), Ashley Bates (drums) and newcomer Greg Moore (bass)—were slated to arrive earlier this year, but last spring’s Icelandic volcano trapped them overseas. Lucky for fans, they kept their travel plans, finally kicking off their mini seven-date jaunt at Chicago's Lincoln Hall on Friday (October 1).
The 90-minute show soared with a hypnotic barrage of favorites from Whirlpool and choice B-sides. Chapterhouse were able to effortlessly channel their halcyon days and, much like their slightly older fan base, the newly forty-something members carried themselves like they were all once again twenty years young. Sherriff and Patman's boyish vocals remain flawless, particularly on jaunty standouts like "Falling Down" and "Breather," and the searing sonics of "Autosleeper." A more cherubic-faced Patman was the most talkative throughout and joked, "This one is by somebody else" before launching into their cover of The Beatles' "Rain."
A sparkling intro to the treasured "Pearl" received the biggest cheers, but ended up a mere tease due to laptop issues. Chapterhouse spotlessly took it in stride, bringing out German electro-gaze DJ and fellow tour opener Ulrich Schnauss for a rousing performance of "Love Forever." It's because of him and his 2008 gossamer take on this Blood Music standout that initially sparked the band's eventual reunion. And while a blissful encore of "If You Want Me" and "Inside of Me" (from 1990's Freefall EP) rounded out a superb walk down memory lane, Chapterhouse gave "Pearl" another go as a grimacing Patman chimed to the crowd, "Ok here's your fix."
Oh what a grand fix it was. Saying goodbye never felt so good.
Then We'll Rise
In My Arms
If You Want Me
Inside of Me
Chapterhouse's Andrew Sheriff (L) and Stephen Patman
Guitarist Simon Rowe (L) and Sheriff
Ulrich SchnaussRead More