Bochum 14.12.99 & Cologne 15.12.99
Evenings of Happy Sad
It was Stephen Dalton who wrote in the NME some three years ago: "To
make [music] this sombre you either need to be Nick Cave, a 60-year-old
alcoholic who has pissed away all his chances, or a born again lo-fi
troubadour whose life has been rocked beyond repair by grief and loss.
Robin Proper-Sheppard, aka Sophia, falls into the latter category."
And judging from these two amazing shows in Germany just before christmas,
he's still right.
The songs by The Sophia Collective still have a rather dark undertone
and often deal with sorrow, longing, abandonment or loss, but not
very often does it happen that a band, or in this case just one man
- former God-Machine member Robin Proper-Sheppard - manages to make
it feel so good to be lonely and sad. Robin and his low-key three
piece band do songs so beautiful, they almost make you cry. So Slow
for example, with the lines: "Death comes so slow/when it's all
you want/and it takes the ones that don't". Yet the whole show
is not depressing at all. And despite the fact that it's just four
regular guys sitting (!) in front of a black curtain, there's a lot
to watch as well. To see Robin trudging through his past by singing
these songs, to see the drummer play in slow-motion and to hear those
awesome songs, that find solace in their own inconsolability. They
do Bastards ("I pray I'm not alone when I die") and Woman,
and at the end they even return for a breathless Directionless, which
alone was worth the admission fee several times over.
At the show in Bochum, Robin hardly said a word at all, except at
the very end, when somebody in the audience shouted for God Machine
songs and the singer told him to "fucking shut up," cause
he either do the songs HE choses, or nothing at all. The show in Cologne
had a slightly different feel cause Robin kept breaking strings all
evening and so the whole show didn't flow as smoothly as the Bochum
Not only did we get to see two very good concerts with most beautiful
songs, we also got a lesson to learn: There's simply an upside to
every downside. Sophia know that. And now we do, too.
Carsten Wohlfeld, 2000, Luna Kafé e-zine
are you happy now
if you want a home
when you're sad
I can't believe the things I can't believe
the river song