Live Review

The Church at The Old Museum, Sat 1st Nov 2014

- As I stood outside of The Old Museum waiting for The Church to perform the sold-out last show of their tour, I watched as the crowd excitedly chattered away in anticipation. It was no surprise that the crowd was of the older spectrum of music fans, however I observed a couple of striking, barely 20 year-old girls making their way past the crowd. My first thought was, “Girls, I think you are meant for the gig next door”. But to my surprise and pleasure they were indeed there to see The Church. The fact that a band on their 25th album can still attract fans of such a young age, gives me hope for music. In fact Steve Kilbey made a point of welcoming the youngest fan in the crowd Lizzie (who was just fifteen years old). As we all slowly filed inside I was surprised to find that the entire concert was completely seated. There was no standing room at all. In fact, the chairs were organised just one metre back from the stage. Now, I’m not saying a seated concert is necessarily bad, but there were a few times when I just wanted to get up and dance – in fact I witnessed a couple of merry punters try just that only to be told to sit back down by security. I found it a little strange and harder to connect emotionally with the band on stage, as it felt too much like I was at the theatre to see a movie. As the lights dimmed and the crowd began to cheer, The Church made their way on to the stage. Steve immediately picked up his bass and announced that there will be no old favourites, but instead a pure performance of their latest album Further/Deeper. Before the crowd got to moan too much in disappointment they kicked in with the first song immediately drowning out any argument. By the time The Church had moved onto the second song, Delirious, it became clear that the crowd had forgiven them for not playing the old hits. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to hear that they would only be performing Further/Deeper. This is the first album featuring new guitarist Ian Haug, and Church songs are typically quite intricate and complicated. It would take a miracle for Haug to learn their back catalogue, as well as perfecting the new material together with the band. I for one, was glad for it. Each song was played flawlessly, leaving you with the impression that Haug and Peter Koppes had in fact been playing together for years. Steve Kilbey's banter on stage still never disappoints. At one point, while praising fifteen year old Lizzie for being the youngest fan there, he instructed her to tell her friends how great The Church is- “Go see The Church. F**k [insert horrible top 40 band name here].” His wit and ability to connect with the audience immediately melted that barrier the odd seating arrangement had put between the audience and the band. As the set moved along I became more and more aware of how talented a bass player Kilbey is. He moved between a 4-string and 6-string (yes, SIX string) bass using each instrument the way the bass gods intended. Peter Koppes was introduced as the lead guitarist, however, I felt that both Koppes and Haug shared that role equally. Their guitar work bounced back and forth between the two like an intricately woven quilt. Of course we cannot forget drummer Tim Powles, who kept everything together with such precise rhythm, even keeping the drums steady as a rock while simultaneously playing maracas. Lightning White was a prime example of this amazing feat of drumming ability. The final song of the set, Miami, was quite simply, EPIC. A perfect blend of psych laced rock, this was the song that really wanted me to get up and jump around. Miami is easily the longest song on the album, however I didn't want it to end! It continuously built up momentum and excitement for about four minutes, exploding in the last two into a wonderful, psychedelic dream state. As the crowd wildly cheered and stamped their feet, the band waved goodbye, and we were all left wondering if there would be an encore. After all, we were promised “no old stuff”. Luckily for us, they came back for one last hoorah, to perform Don't Look Back a fairly stripped back acoustic hit from their 1982 album The Blurred Crusade. It was a bitter sweet end to what was truly a magical evening. The Church were definitely in good form, and as one jolly punter loudly pointed out, “You're on fire!!” Indeed they were. And in the the words of Kilbey himself, “It’s good to be on fire - It’s better than being damp & tepid!”. - Linda Finlay


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