Monday, April 05, 2010

The Church concert is one to remember



The Church may be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010, but after catching the Australian quartet deliver a dynamic and wide-ranging performance before a packed house at the Coach House on Friday night, April 2, fans can certainly be thankful this is no farewell tour.
The band kicked off its self-dubbed “The Church: An Intimate Space” 30th Anniversary American Tour” at the Coach House with a fantastic show that included a few technical glitches in the early minutes, but quickly evolved into a dramatic and wide-reaching celebration of the outfit’s distinctive sound and approach.
As promised in the promotion of the tour and the free colorful program passed out to everyone as they stepped inside the venue (what a contrast to the $30 necessary to purchase a program at the Paul McCartney concert earlier in the week), bassist-lead singer Steve Kilbey, guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes and drummer Tim Powles started the show with a song (“Pangaea”) from their latest album (Untitled #23) and proceeded to offer other songs from earlier albums in reverse chronological order as the night went on.
Although the group didn’t follow that formula perfectly, it was hard to argue with a set list that allowed the band to play songs that showcased its dreamy neo-psychedelic alt-rock in all its various shades.
There was edgy rock (“Space Needle”) with Kilbey (seen above in a picture I snapped on Friday night) kicking off the song singing to the accompaniment of his bass guitar, which he strummed like a guitar before the rest of the group kicked in. And the Church offered up a reworked version of its hit “Reptile” like a jazz song – except for the classical-styled solo that Willson-Piper added with his acoustic guitar.
While many casual fans likely counted the band’s “Under the Milky Way” as a favorite performance of the night, there were other selections that easily equaled that hit thanks to the enthusiasm of the band and lush arrangements offered up by the Church. Indeed, all four members of the troupe played a variety of instruments throughout the two-hour concert.
The beautiful “Ionian Blues” and “Invisible,” the Americana-tinged “Louisiana” with Koppes adding some textured mandolin and the up-tempo rocker “Comedown” came in the first set, while the second half of the show surprised at every track thanks to the momentum of the performance.
“Metropolis” allowed Willson-Piper to display his talents playing flamenco guitar, while the use of 12-string guitars, keyboards and harmonica gave added life to the big hit “Under the Milky Way.”
During the first of the group’s several encores, Kilbey explained that because Smashing Pumpkins had once covered a Church song, now the Church was going to return the favor. The band then proceeded to offer up a powerful and haunting cover of “Disarm.”
This was truly a night to celebrate a great band whose music and songs still resonate. It’s no wonder that relatively few in the near-capacity crowd left before the concert came to a close at midnight.