Today marks the end of the Simple Minds/Devo/the church/Models shows. Click below for online reports and photos from this tour
Today marks the end of the Simple Minds/Devo/the church/Models shows. Click below for online reports and photos from this tour
TUESDAY, 10 JANUARY 2012
Brisbane Powerhouse – Fri Dec 23
A rainy pre-Christmas Eve night can be made special in a variety of ways – in this lifer’s case, seeing The Church, who are bringing the three-album Future Past Perfect extravaganza to the Powerhouse.
Aided by a considerably-younger “utility man” Craig Wilson from Sydney dream/jangle-popsters Astreetlightsong, the Blurred Crusaders encounter an uneven mix during the opening Cobalt Blue, but have all instruments up to level by the time they launch into the menacing Deadman’s Hand. Over two-and-a-half years since its release, the band’s most recent LP Untitled #23 remains an impressive body of work, yet its second half – particularly Sunken Sun with its echoey, post-rock-hued outro and Lunar’s short-and-sweet, ‘space-rock’ trip – is a revelation live. Ever the master of the six-string, Peter Koppes takes us places with his David Gilmour-esque guitar solo during the melancholic On Angel Street, while Steve Kilbey signals the intermission following the gorgeous Operetta.
The album all Church fans tend to agree on, Priest=Aura isn’t so much a faithful reproduction as a mind-blowing live experience. Two decades post-conception, the album still sounds like nothing else recorded at the time or currently, Ripple and Feel brimming with immaculate guitar-pop power and the lovelorn Mistress allowing dynamo drummer Tim Powles to turn the intensity down a notch. However, the second set’s moment of truth arrives when Kilbey puts down his six-string bass and roams the stage during the cathartic Disillusionist, followed by nine brain-melting minutes of Chaos and the brief, haunting Film – the direct precursor of the ‘00s instrumental rock boom.
Following a brief pause, the four-piece roll out Starfish – the record that brought Kilbey and co. worldwide recognition – for the night’s final set. As expected, Destination zooms, Antenna (with Wilson on mandolin) chimes and Reptile bites; Marty Willson-Piper and Koppes take confident solo turns on Spark and A New Season and the former wrings every drop of emotion from Hotel Womb’s outro. Christmas can’t possibly get any better than this.
“Stunning show. One of the best shows I have ever seen by them and I’ve seen plenty.” Noel Mengel
Click on page 109 for a great review of our three album show in street press magazine Drum Media!
AU Review – “If I had a crystal ball I would predict that the church’s future will remain as inspired, creative and perfect as their past and present”.
“Due to quirks in the schedule surfacing in the late afternoon, space saviours the church are forced to play an abridged, seven-song set at The Dome (Steve Kilbey is the first to admit the four-piece are going to be far more generous at a venue) as PNAU doof away at a close distance. The introspective Aura, Sealine and Cobalt Blue are interesting choices for a festival gig, but You Took and Tantalized take all and sundry to the electric wonderland and Starfish classics Under The Milky Way and Reptile are ever-mesmerising, Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper invoking a six-string satori. Bring on the three-album tour later this month.” – Denis Semchenko
Read their full write-up of Homebake here
the church, The Triffids & Ed Kuepper at Red Hill Auditorium, Perth WA 4th Dec 2011 by carlosrockets
Almost a week on from A Psychedelic Symphony and my brain is still firing…
From the moment George Ellis and his incredible 67 piece orchestra take the stage, the night is one of the most blissful of my life. They open with a superb arrangement of Metropolis, and as the band settle in, front of stage, the anticipation in the crowd is tangible. Kilbey whispers into the mic, there’ll never be another quite like you, the crowd burst their seams and the band surges straight into Sealine. Free of his bass, Steve has a new energy, attacking the vocal with fervour, It’s a miracle, let it alter you, and the packed house begins to give themselves over. Lost follows and the arrangement is soaring and lush and then it’s crowd favourite, Almost With You.
Three songs into the set and the bands musical prowess is shining through, the orchsetra, exploring spaces in the songs and swelling their already expansive sonic landscapes.
Anchorage and Pangaea from 2009?s, Untitled #23 are up next. Anchorage not only shows off Kilbey’s vocal depth, it also highlights his theatricality as a front man, and Pangaea has a new found sonic richness. Then we are taken back 30 years to where it all started… the slowed down, sensual throb of Unguarded Moment brings the crowd back to bursting. Kilbey’s voice is smooth and deep, Marty & Peter’s guitars interwine and Tim keeps the engine pulsing. The band then fire things up, unleashing a full-tilt version of Myrrh. The orchestra flexing their muscle as the guitars shift into overdrive…
Steve then hands lead vocal duties over to Peter and he delivers a superb version of Never Before, before moving to the keyboards as the band prepare to close the first set with the epic, Grind. For the first half of the song, the band adopt acoustic mode, allowing the strings to swirl and mesmerise, but as the orchestra leave the stage, Marty straps on the electric and we are left with just The Church on stage… it’s then, you remember why you are here. Marty’s solo is blistering, Kilbey is just about doing the splits, Peter’s keyboard is hauntingly beautiful, and Tim is giving his kit a delicious thrashing. The first half closes and the show has already exceeded expectation.
The second half of the show opens with the gorgeous, Happy Hunting Ground. It is a real treat to hear the orchestra make this soar. The band hit the stage again and tear through a cover of The Dave Millar Set’s classic, Mr Guy Fawkes. Then it’s the first of a string of highlights. Ripple is phenomenal tonight. Peter’s guitar work is sublime and the strings lift the chorus to dizzying heights. Reptile is up next and again it is Peter that steals the show. His guitar work toward the end of the song is nothing less than thrilling… Then we are treated to Two Places at Once, a song that has only sporadically made it into live setlists over the years. Steve and Marty trade verses, and the whole room seems to come to a stand still. It is one of the many ‘pin drop’ moments of the night. But nothing could have prepared the audience for what comes next… The Disillusionist.
Kilbey is absolutely possessed, channeling the lyric and moving like a dervish. The arrangement is epic, a wild mix of rock’n’roll, poetry and theatre. I was completely transfixed. Marty then takes lead vocal duty for Spark, which possesses a youthful energy, before the mood shifts with On Angel Street, Steve crooning some of his most personal lyrics, You should change the message on your phone/ So sad, so strange baby to hear my name/ Makes me cry when you say we’re not at home.
Then it’s the big one, as Steve says, the most popular Australian song of the last three million years, Under the Milky Way. And what can I say… the room is surging, every face in the room lights up. The second set closes with big rocker,Space Saviour. Tim’s drumming is frenetic, the cymbals getting more than a good workout. The crowd are on their feet, the band is waving and blowing kisses but no-one is leaving yet.
They return with Already Yesterday, followed by a shimmering version of Invisible, that also blends in The Velvet Underground’s classic, Heroin and again, allows Kilbey to really let go vocally. The crowd are on their feet for a second time, the band leave the stage, but still no-one is ready to go home.
The final act opens with Operetta. Truly, this song sounds like it was written for an orchestra. I have loved this song from the moment I heard it, but tonight’s version has a new magic. And finally, Marty’s guitar starts to rumble and the band break into wild-rocker, Tantalised. People start to pop up out of their seats and the room is shaking. The band remind us of their potency and we are all held in their spell.
The roar of the crowd is still inside me, and I imagine will be for some days to come. I have said to everyone who has asked me about the show that it’s nights like this that you live for.
Thankfully for the many that couldn’t be there, there will be a DVD release later in the year.
– G Nunn
The Church: A Psychedelic Symphony
First and foremost: they deserve this. After 30 years of developing such a rich, lush catalogue of music, from 1981’s Of Skins and Heart to 2010’s Deadmans Hand EP, the church deserve to be onstage at the magnificent Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. They also deserve the backing of the equally magnificent 67-piece George Ellis Orchestra, many of whom weren’t born until well into the band’s career. And they also deserve to have this concert filmed for an upcoming DVD and (we are promised) a TV special in the not too distant future. And maybe even a live album, if drummer Tim Powles has his way.
So, after settling into our seats shortly after 7.30pm, and perusing the glossy souvenir program given to each audience member, we see George Negus come onstage to reprise his 2010 ARIA role and introduce the church. A short orchestral version of Metropolis follows, then the band arrives to rapturous applause, Steve Kilbey bringing up the rear. The band launches into 2003’s Sealine, which quickly sets the pace and tone of the entire show: lush with strings and woodwind instruments swirling through each song, easily delivering the sonic enhancements that this show promised. The band is tight, yet spaced out across the stage. They have played these songs before. Supported by an extra double bass, keyboards and “The Churchettes”, two backup singers from the band’s entourage, the band are able to concentrate on their own roles and sound even better than they do on record. Lost follows, then Almost With you, Anchorage and Pangaea from their 2009 album Untitled #23 (which yields five songs tonight, dispelling any suggestions of pure nostalgia in the setlist). Marty Wilson-Piper and Tim then move to the timpanis at the rear of the stage for a totally revamped version of The Unguarded Moment, breathing some welcome freshness into this radio staple. Then comes the first of four tracks from 1985’s Heyday offered tonight: Myrrh, a sonic masterpiece and instant high point of this concert. Peter Koppes then delivers Never Before from 2005’s Uninvited, Like the Clouds, which builds into another orchestral/rockin’ wonder. Grind closes the first half of the show, further demonstrating the interplay between band and orchestra. They have been working on this project for four long years and it certainly showed.
After a 20 minute intermission – what else would you expect from a show at the Opera House – the bells were again rung and the audience quickly took their seats. The orchestra came back out, wearing brightly coloured clothes (they were in black for the first half), and gave us the instrumental Happy Hunting Ground in its entirety. This was very close to the original 1985 version, but somehow sounded special tonight. Must have been the surroundings, but it seemed just ‘right’. Then came a surprising cover of Mr Guy Fawkes, from 1969’s Dave Miller Set, a jingly-jangly piece of lost Aussie pop, perfectly chosen. Hopefully this song will find release soon. Then came Ripple, Reptile, Two Places at Once (a personal favourite and another high point) and The Disillusionist, a creepy number from 1992’s Priest = Aura that showcased Steve Kibey’s manic showmanship tonight. Marty took the controls for Spark, hugely supported by the audience, then came On Angel Street followed by Under the Milky Way – my spouse’s favourite Church song. Space Saviour closed the second set, but the audience were then treated to two encores: Already Yesterday, Invisible, Operetta and finally Tantalized, interspersed with the many thank-yous that such a production involved.
This was a very special show. The orchestral arrangements suited the songs wonderfully. The lighting was delightful for the Concert Hall, the audience were very appreciative, the band were totally with it. And over the past 30 years, I have seen moments when they haven’t been. They deserved this show and I’m glad to have witnessed it.
Leaving all the obvious puns aside, if I had to sum up the show in one word, it would be “overwhelming” BUT overwhelming in the best possible way imaginable. My senses are still reeling four days after the event. There was simply so much to take in all at once. I was sitting four rows back from the front in between Steve and Marty (yes, not a bad place to be sitting) so I could see almost everything but my ears were not capable of processing all that they heard at once. There was a lot to distinguish – a LOT happening on stage, my head turning from side-to-side to switch from Peter to Marty in order to catch as much guitar interplay as possible – would trade secrets be revealed on stage by these guitar-slingers? Yes, I spied a couple of techniques I’d previously missed. Having an e-bow roadie comes in handy (MWP) when switching from pick to e-bow as these devices are notoriously tricky to /instantly /get the string(s) vibrating (Myrrh).
I wished that the *church* could have played 2 nights so that I could have seen it a second time, perhaps from a different vantage point so as to take in more of what was happening on stage in a widescreen perspective. At times, I thought the guitars were too low in the mix, and other times I could not hear the orchestra as clear as I wanted to over the band. The vocals to me were just right, though the back-up singers (the churchettes – Tiare & Shelley) could’ve been a little louder to my ear. I look forward to the DVD/CD as it’ll give me the opportunity to relive the experience again and again, being able to pick up on the nuances I missed on the night.
The whole time during the performance, I was sitting there with a permanent grin on my face, in deep awe or totally captivated by what was going on. Yeah, it was that good – other fans have mentioned tears welling up, a little lump in the back of the throat, goose bumps, shivers and so on – all these feelings at different times… After the show, Marty asked me what I thought and I replied “the awesome bits were awesome” MWP repeated those words back at me in his smooth accent “the awesome bits were awesome”, and then sniggered. Pretty lame response from me for such a huge undertaking and brilliant performance by the band and all involved, I know. I think I may have just been a little lost for words or tongue-tied, well what I meant to say is all of the above and below… Marty I hope you’re reading?
*Before the show.*
I arrived a little early to make sure I had time to meet some other fans at the Opera Bar before the show. I also had a look at what was on offer from the merch’ stand. It was the usual fare plus the addition of two new shirts made especially for this show. This is definitely the highest attended *church* concert I’ve ever been to and the smartest dressed audience ever to grace a *church* gig. There was close to about 1800 people hovering around the foyer/bar area. I was taken aback by the sheer number of people and realised trying to find friends inside the venue will be trickier than first anticipated. Meet ups would have to wait until intermission and after the show.
/Now – the show with commentary on each song in performance order./
*The set list:*
(orchestra only playing and the band walked on stage towards the end of the song just in time for Steve to grab the mic and croon “there’ll never be another quite like you” very sweet, it set the tone nicely).
(this was a surprise full-band opener, I had hoped for Aura off P+A as the opener as I thought the orchestra playing the intro would be an other-worldly experience, alas Aura would not make the set-list).
(My first highlight. When I first bought Starfish upon release, Lost was one of my least favourite tracks from the album. When Starfish was remastered and re-released a few years back now, it became one of my favourite songs on the entire album – the accompaniment of orchestra on this track was lush, full and beautiful. The domp domp dooooom de domp domp dooooom double bass / bass part was melancholy to die for).
*Almost With You*
(Highlight 2. An early all-hands-on-deck stellar song with Wes Gregorace on bass, back-up singers doing their thing on the chorus – we were treated to a show stopper early during proceedings).
(Never been a fan of this song, but it flowed along as deliciously).
(Highlight 3. I really dig this slowed down soft version, loved it the first time I heard it on El Momento Descuidado too and tonight it worked like a charmer. Steve’s deep soft vocals accompanied by acoustic guitars and orchestra were a crowd pleaser).
(Highlight 4. To use an acronym here. OMG. This was pure church, guitar interplay, tight drums, clever orchestral arrangements adding to the wall of sound – bliss).
(Highlight 5. This is my favourite PK *church *song so hearing it at this show with double bass et all was a treat – great stuff PK, great stuff indeed).
acoustic to electric with piano interlude, orchestra leave stage after piano part.
(Highlight 6. This song has always been a crowd pleaser so it’s inclusion at the end of the first set was a no-brainer. A clever closer, going from acoustic to electric, giving the orchestra their stage exit right. Wow – f*cking wow).
*Happy Hunting Ground*
(Highlight 7. I was thrilled when the orchestra started playing this song. I knew straight away by the percussion that it was HHG. This was beautiful, my humble words can’t describe how lovely this was to hear being played by a full orchestra).
*Mr Guy Fawkes*
(The Dave Millar Set – cover).
(I was told the *church* were playing a cover song at this show the night before. A cover they’d never played before so this came as a surprise and I’m sad to report that this was the first time I’d heard this gem – my music education continues through the *church* band).
(Highlight 8. I was SO thrilled when Steve introduced this song. I absolutely love hearing this live and the orchestra on the chorus was stunning – this one will get many repeat plays once I receive the DVD).
(this was blistering awesome – a live favourite and one of their most radio friendly songs. I remember first hearing this on 96fm in Perth before it’s single release many moons ago).
*Two Places at Once*
(Two Basses at Once)
(This for me was the standout song of the night. It was performed absolutely flawlessly. The vocal interplay and harmonies were spot on, shivers went down my spine. MWP’s voice commands attention, and when he sings, you’re drawn in, incapable of hearing anything else other than his voice. Steve introduced the song and then said it should perhaps be called Two Basses at Once, pointing to Johnny Zwartz on the double bass behind. I’ll mention at this point, that the double bass added a depth to the entire performance that was beyond deep and intense, hearing the next song’s bass line performed on double bass would introduce a new level of pitch and menace not before heard on The Disillusionist. I’ll also add here while on the subject of double bass, that I think Johnny spent a lot of time during the night’s performance worrying that SK may step back into his playing while SK’s theatrical performance was occurring).
(Highlight 9. I was surprised they put this one on the set list. It was a welcome surprise for me but I got the impression the casual fan was a bit put out by the brutality of the performance. As mentioned above, the double bass gave the song a grounded depth unheard of before. The change of key in the song was most intense – or as I put to MWP later, this awesome part was awesome to the ear of this intent listener. I look forward to hearing this on the DVD. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the reaction of the audience as captured on the crane camera).
(MWP stole the light and held it in check for the duration of this number. The tightness of the entire performance was gob-smackingly-tight. The song break that goes from full band/orchestra to MWP’s single guitar chugging through the rhythm chords impressed, once again, the hard core fans and new believers alike – reminding all of the super talent that is MWP, great stuff, great stuff indeed).
*On Angel Street*
(Highlight 10. What can be said of this slow gem that hasn’t already been said when performed live? I was pleased with this song’s inclusion. SK transported us all to another place with his crooning beckoning vocal delivery. For a moment we weren’t strangers at all – we all had front row seats to a break-up song to break all hearts).
*Under the Milky Way*
(The most popular Australian song of the last 3 million years according to SK. We all knew it was coming, it was only a matter of time. It’s been a live staple for decades sans a few years they dropped it from their set list in typical *church* fashion. A crowd pleaser as always *big smiles everywhere*).
(Highlight 11. This song was written to be played live. It rocks, it rolls, it’s the *church* ADD psychedelic symphony and you have magic – standing ovation 1).
(Highlight 12. this was so charming – loved it – orchestra compliments beautifully)
(Highlight 13. This was another standout song for me. I’ve always loved this song from the very first time I heard it on AENT. Flawless performance and a great insight into the lyrical mind of SK. I have to mention how impressed I was with TP’s drumming in particular towards the end on this song. TP was mixing it up with various percussive changes after the medley section, playing fast high-hat/cymbal variations that worked so amazing well with the rest of the rhythm section creating the sensation of being taken away by train as referenced in the first verse of the song – skillful sticks indeed. I’ll add here how solid a performer TP was throughout the night’s – he’s the backbone of the band, he can belt the skins and hold back-up vocals simultaneously without missing a beat. He seems to have 3 – 4 items in his hands at any one time. TP – the multi-tasking drummer AND has anyone else noticed that one of TP’s sons is a James Franco look-a-like? – standing ovation 2 for the performance of Invisible and not how good looking TP’s son is)
(Operetta was performed with gusto, lush soundscapes and all the ingredients that make it classic *church*– it’s just not one of my favourite *church* songs. I would have preferred to have heard Hotel
Womb here instead).
(I knew this song would close proceedings – its an obvious show stopper and what an awesome performance we all experienced on the night. The jam nature of this song was incorporated quite tightly with the orchestra, MWP giving Mr Ellis the nod when the timing was right for the change – if you’ve heard this live and which *church *fan hasn’t, you know exactly which part of the song I’m talking about – standing ovation 3. For a few minutes there, I thought the band would come back on the stage as the orchestra stayed in their seats, then slowly by the handful, the orchestra rose and left the stage – the Psychedelic Symphony had drawn to a close)
There’s many anecdotes I can add here but will refrain as I think a lot of you will enjoy the experience of the live DVD and sharing too much may spoil the viewing experience. After all, we like a surprise now and then, don’t we?
Steve was jovial and had some splendid jokes on hand.Peter was restrained and played like the seasoned pro he is.
Marty was Marty who never ceases to impress.
Tim was the backbone and main instigator of the concert so well done TP you managed to pull it off marvelously.
Tiare & Shelley were the churchettes bringing a feminine vocal touch that complimented the performance.
Craig Wilson is more than a utility player, he’s the 5th member of the band.
George Ellis, the Greek god of orchestra conductors (according to SK), the glue that held it all together.
The guest musicians/soloists – you were all simply amazing.
The orchestra – you were all amazing and played a big part in one of the most significant concerts of the *church’s* 30+ year career.
Thank you one and all!
For me there was a massive build-up heading towards this one-off show, my expectations were very high and at end of the of the night and after coming back to Perth from Sydney and letting the events of last weekend sink in, I now realise that the Psychedelic Symphony FAR exceeded my already very high expectations. I was glad to have made the trek over 🙂