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Sophia
Krefeld, Germany, 16.04.2001

Going to church with Robin Proper-Sheppard

It doesn't get more special than this. A few months ago, Robin Proper-Sheppard and Sophia made a one-off festival appearance in Belgium joined by a string quartett, as documented on their beautiful new live release De Nachten. To promote the disc, Robin hit the road again playing your usual bars and clubs with only keyboard player Will Foster in tow. But in Krefeld, it all was different. Not only were the two joined by a string quartett again, the gig also took place in a real church, the Lutherkurche. So the first "shock" actually was that you were allowed to drink and smoke inside and before Sophia hit the stage at 9.40PM, the church was packed with 600 people. Shortly before showtime Bob Dylan's You're A Big Girl Now was playing over the PA and that song created a perfect atmosphere for what was to follow:

Although Robin was visibly nervous throughout the night, he started the show with a new song, the quite wonderful The Sea followed by old favorite So Slow and even though they had little time to rehearse with the strings, it sounded quite impressive. Having heard new songs like Bad Man or Ship In The Sand only with strings now, it will be interesting to see how they will sound on the upcoming third Sophia studio release, due out in October or November.

But also the re-arranged old songs like Are You Happy Now sounded better than ever with the string quartett. After I Left You, possibly the best of the new tunes and a beautiful Directionless the strings were gone, simply because they didn't have time to rehearse more than about 10 songs, as Robin pointed out: "You can go home now, if you want", he added jokingly but of course everybody stayed. The last song of the main set was Death Of A Salesman and it sounded nothing like the recorded version, in fact it was much faster and a lot more aggressive. Quite good version, though. What followed was a half hour solo encore which even featured a surprise cover version of John Lennon's Jealous Guy! "This was a special night, I didn't fuck up, I didn't forget any of the lyrics and I'm not too drunk", Robin said close to the end as a way of explaining why he rather would quit and not play another tune, but the crowd just wouldn't let him go and he closed the show with another old favorite, Another Friend.

Some of the songs might have sounded a bit shaky, but hey, this was the first apperance by Robin with this particular string quartett and wouldn't you be nervous if you would play a church with 600 adoring fans as well? Even though it is obviously hard to categorize Sophia, tonight's show once again proved that there's more to rock or pop music (or whatever you want to call it), than electric guitars and loud drum solos. Magic!

Photo © Stefan Claudius

Copyright © 2001 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sophia article/review: Bochum 14.12.99 & Cologne 15.12.99.

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