England - Full Moon 40 - 01/21/00
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 one did.
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,
Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld