Review: The Church Transcends The Gov

Originating from Sydney, The Church’s career has now spanned four decades making it an institution in its own right.

The Gov opened its doors to The Church on November 16, the band that is, not the religious institution. Originating from Sydney, The Church’s career has now spanned four decades making it an institution in its own right. The absence of a support act was in part due to the deep back catalogue of the band as reflected by the almost 20 song set. With a full-house and a strong reputation it was evident that The Church could stand alone on its own giant shoulders.

One could be forgiven for feeling pious as the organ soundscape rang out with the opener from its 1992 release Priest=Aura. Reaching even further back in time, the second song Myrrh (1985) had some euphoric dancing by a few avid fans while lead singer Steve Kilbey’s warm voice pervaded through the nostalgic crowd. The low, warm male vocal is a rarity these days but Kilbey does it very well, with every word punching through those deep mysterious lyrics.

Equally impressive was the guitar collection of former Powder Finger guitarist and now permanent member of the band Ian Haug. Every song manifested a different axe and had the guitar tech busy, who incidentally played bass on a couple of songs late in the set. As the set progressed Kilbey found his inner rock operatic spirit, becoming expressive in his movements especially when freed from the constraints of playing bass thanks to the aforementioned guitar tech.

The affable, attentive audience washed away the band’s inhibitions in this the first show of their national tour. The five-piece band produced brilliantly layered orchestrations, proving them to be peerless in the modern indie and rock scene. Peter Koppes (guitar) is one of the founding members of the band and this long working relationship with Kilbey is key to the depth of the band’s music. Another amazing aspect is their ability to take ‘sad’ minor chords and still produce an upbeat poppy sound.

With little chart success over the years The Church showed that it doesn’t take mainstream success to capture a committed following and put on a great show. Of course they did play Milky Way towards the end of the night to the thrill of the entire audience, revamping it with a little more rock edge than the original recording. If the number of mobile phones taking a video (at least 50% of the audience!) was used as a measure then this track was the peak of the night. The first of two encores included the song that started it all, Unguarded Moment (1981), and you could almost hear the digital alarm clocks ticking back and the cassettes rewinding in a truly memorable, ah, moment.

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