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LIVE REVIEW: The Church, Bunbury – 17 July, 2015

| 13 August 2015 | Reply

LIVE REVIEW: The Church, Bunbury – 17 July, 2015
Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury, Western Australia
Friday, 17th July, 2015
Review and photography by Jarrod Henry

The Church LIVE Bunbury WA, 17 July 2015  (8)

It’s not often that you get to experience such a world-class band in such an intimate environment. Indeed, some acts are born for the large stage and don’t easily translate into smaller venues easily. What may seem like a great concept doesn’t necessarily gel in reality and the effect of the artist’s music can be diminished.

The Church are a band for both such instances. Their songs have always had the scope and grandeur suited to the big venues and yet they’re instilled with a subdued quality that borders on the transcendental that can hold a smaller rooms attention captive, refusing to let go.

Playing the second of three WA dates on their ‘Blurred Crusade/ Further/Deeper’ Tour, the band took over the rather compact space at The Prince in Bunbury and turned it into a spectacle of the sublime, the theatrical, the beguiling and the beautiful. Kicking off with their iconic second album in it’s entirety, they burst into the perfect jangle-pop of ‘Almost With You’ and an almost simultaneously massive grin spread across every face in the room. Vocalist/bassist Steve Kilbey – resplendent in paisley shirt – was in fine form, his baritone vocals blending perfectly with the rest of the band. The absence of founding member Marty Wilson-Piper was more than aptly filled by former Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug, and his twelve-string rhythm playing and effects laden atmospheric chops traded off constantly with lead guitarist Peter Koppes. ‘When You Were Mine’ and ‘Field of Mars’ were delivered with a minimum of in-between stage banter and sounded as good as, if not better than, their original recorded versions.

Paying close attention to recreating the album live, the addition of touring member Craig Wilson on guitars, bass and keys gave The Church the rich, lush atmospheric arrangements they so deserve. Indeed Koppes, Haug and Wilson all drew on a veritable arsenal of guitars – changing instruments between almost every song – that went a long way to showing the attention to detail the band showed the album. Songs like ‘Just For You’ and ‘To Be In Your Eyes’ are songs the band have almost never performed live before and sounded fresh and energised, despite their being thirty plus years old, thanks to a blend of acoustic guitars and Tim Powles percussive drum fills. ‘You Took’s harmonic bass intro and delay soaked power chords were greeted with rapturous applause before ‘Life Speeds Up’ bought the first half of the night to a crashing conclusion, the tubular bell-like climax ringing out its glorious cacophony before the band left the stage for a brief intermission.

Act Two initially centred on the band’s “future classic” album Further/Deeper. With a sound that borders on a mature wall-of-sound experimental motif, set opener ‘The Vanishing Man’ featured glacial slabs of reverb drenched noise rock and Haug’s E Bow guitar lines. With Wilson taking over bass duties, Kilbey was free to act as the front man; mock saluting during the choruses, clutching his hands to his ears as if in pain and throwing himself into the performance with abandon. The spaciously melodic ‘Delirious’ and ‘Toyhead’ bought a further live intensity to the recorded works before the multiple 12-string acoustic majesty of ‘Laurel Canyon’ washed across the crowd.

“I want you to cast your mind back to 1990..” Kilbey announced before the band launched into ‘Metropolis’ from ‘Gold Afternoon Fix’ to the delight of all. The first of a sparse collection of hits on the night, it was bought home to all what a truly great track it is and The Church could only be forgiven for dismissing the tune as a throw away, such was the deafening reception it received. “Roll up, roll up..” he cried again to introduce ‘The Disillusionist’ from the follow-up ‘Preist=Aura’. Again Kilbey played the enigmatic front man to great effect, throwing himself around the stage, gesticulating wildly and intoning the lyrics frenetically. When Haug began the all too familiar strum of ‘Under The Milky Way’, the crowd when berserk, singing the chorus along with Kilby as Koppes and Haug harmonised along with him. After new song ‘Miami’ closed out the second set, they returned to the stage for a reading of ‘Day 5’ from 2006’s ‘Uninvited, Like The Clouds’ and a somewhat surprising rendition of Powderfinger’s ‘Waiting For The Sun’ before finishing with the slinky bass lines and echoing riffs of ‘Reptile’.

The Church live are the kind of band you have to take on face value: if you expect a set laden with radio hits, you’ll be disappointed. But what you will experience is an incredible musical journey of dizzying heights, melodic twists and turns, thinking man’s lyrics and a collection of great rock/pop songs. Not for no reason are they revered amongst the musical community as one of the most loved and influential Australian bands ever, and to witness them live is as religious an experience as their title suggests.

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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