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LIVE: THE CHURCH – The Astor Theatre, Perth, Western Australia

| 2 September 2022 | 1 Reply

LIVE: THE CHURCH – The Astor Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
Thursday, 1st September, 2022
Review & photos by Shane Pinnegar

A suitably atmospheric intro track, dense with didgeridoo and synths, precedes The Church entering a stage washed in smokey blue light and launching into the first of a clutch of new songs, No Ascension. It’s a bold move – the new record won’t be released until 2023, and these songs remain unheard by most, apart from the single and title track which was released a scant three days ago, and a couple which were aired on a brief American tour earlier in the year – but this is a bold and unique band.

Steve Kilbey has a reputation as a somewhat serious man, but tonight he is in fine spirits – positively playful, in fact. He jokes warmly with the audience and his bandmates, and seems brimming with gratitude for the euphoric response the band receive, especially for the swathe of new, unheard, tracks.

Kilbey’s bass forms the pulsating, beating heart of most of these songs, while the latest incarnation of the band provide consummate backing. Lead guitarists Ash Naylor (Even) and Ian Haug (Powderfinger), and guitarist/keyboardist Jeffrey Cain provide infinite texture rich enough to get lost in, while drummer Timothy Powles – lead drummer, if you will, with Nick Meredith handling further drums, percussion and more – is on fire tonight attempting, he says, to impress a friend in attendance, prompting even Kilbey to single his performance out later in the show.

The beauty of The Church is in the intricate, aquiline melodies that soar with grace and ethereal splendour. Even without knowing a new song – or an obscure oldie – it’s possible to be swept away by their esoteric nature, especially when heard in such a beautiful old theatre like The Astor. Sit back and let the melodies, their edgy beauty and uniqueness, wash over you. It’s a trip, man, in every sense of the word.

Comedown (from Magician Among The Spirits), the Middle Eastern themes of Kings (Priest=Aura) and Columbus (Heyday) show that Kilbey is happiest playing more to dedicated fans than just delivering instantly recognisable hits, but he still drops in a few of the latter, starting with Metropolis (Gold Afternoon Fix).

No Other You is another instantly enjoyable, cinematic newie, then Haug has a minor problem with a guitar pedal when attempting the play the intro to Starfish-era favourite Reptile, so Kilbey fills the gap, asking, “do I need to say something funny?” After the track he expresses sincere regret he didn’t bring his weed with him, noting that the sniffer dogs at the airport seemed to only be searching for fruit, and he’s “not stoned enough.”

“Somebody’s written it [on the setlist] as ‘Saylavee’” he says of the next new song, C’est La Vie, and jokes that it’s a good name for somebody at an AA meeting. You had to be there, perhaps. “It’s a bouncy little number, I’m sure you’re going to love it,” he adds, accurately.

“It’s like writing a poem and standing up and reading it in front of people,” observes Kilbey of this new song, before introducing their breakthrough hit The Unguarded Moment less enthusiastically. “Here’s the horrible one I hate – you might like it.” This is the one he’d previously mentioned he was not stoned enough for, and he almost seems surprised at the rapturous response it receives, “oh come on – you don’t like it THAT much!” He is noticeably appreciative, though.

New song Antarctica is followed by It Could Be Anyone (Magician Among The Spritis), a trancey, drone-like mantra impossible not to get caught up in, then they begin an acoustic bracket of songs, like “when you go and see a real band.”

Fly, Old Coast Road, Powderfinger hit Waiting For The Sun in tribute to Haug, and Laurel Canyon all benefit from this treatment, while the Doors-like Is This Where You Live? and new single The Hypnogogue are epic and stunning.

In fact, all the new material sounds fantastic, promising the album will be one of their best when it finally appears, and we’re privileged to be treated to the first live airing of it in the country.
A couple of oldies are next – “a really obscure old one we haven’t played in years and years” Shadow Cabinet, and The Big Hit which, “needs and deserves no introduction. I’m grateful for it, it’s allowed me to live my excessive lifestyle.” It is, of course, Under The Milky Way. Another oldie, An Interlude (The Blurred Crusade), proves that for all the ethereal beauty of the band, they can pack a punch when it suits them.

Kilbey talks about the splendour of the venue, comparing it tongue in cheekily to the old Shenton Park Hotel and the Pickled Parrot, and “hey what was the one where you could go buy cocaine after hours? Oh yeah – Metropolis, named after our song!”

Tantalised, from fourth album Heyday, is next, finishing a shade over two hours of fantastic music, passionately and movingly delivered.

But hold up, there’s an encore, Grind, from Gold Afternoon Fix, which cleverly includes a two-line snippet from Aerosmith’s Dream On, and You Took (The Blurred Crusade), featuring a hypnotic extended outro. A third of the crowd have left before the band return for one last song – Kilbey teasing The Rolling Stones’ Waiting On A Friend before playing the classic early hit Almost With You (The Blurred Crusade).

The gig’s never over ‘til the house lights go up, folks, and you missed the cherry on the cake.

Set list:

No Ascension
Comedown
Kings
Columbus
Metropolis
No Other You
Reptile
C’est la vie
The Unguarded Moment
Antartica
It Could Be Anyone
Fly
Old Coast Road
Waiting for the Sun
Laurel Canyon
Is This Where You Live
The Hypnogogue
Shadow Cabinet
Under the Milky Way
An Interlude
Tantalised

Grind
You Took

Almost With You

Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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  1. Brian Smith says:

    Thanks for the review, it warms the cockles of my heart seeing my favorite band finally able to get back out there and deliver the goods. Onya fellas!

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