“With recent tours featuring acoustic shows, retrospectives and entire sets spent performing three (yes, three) albums in full each night, it’s not so surprising to see the church celebrate their three-decade mark with a conceptual show. And while rock bands collaborating with orchestras are neither new nor always a success, it was a bold enough move for their anniversary show to cause plenty of anticipation and excitement.
After an unexpected and sorta intentionally, sorta unintentionally funny opening from anchorman/journalist George Negus, the band emerge in front of the 67-strong George Ellis Orchestra. Somewhat curiously for such a significant show, they kick off with a couple of lesser-known numbers ( Sealine and Lost ) before a swirling, orchestra-heavy rendition of early hit The Unguarded Moment – a song that the band almost always transform, tonight being no exception.
Curiously for an anniversary show, there was plenty of lesser-known material amongst the hits – recent songs Pangaea and Operetta were well-aided by their orchestral backing, while one of the evening’s highlights came from an unlikely cover of The Dave Miller Set’s early Australian psych classic Mr Guy Fawkes. That song in particular was an incredible moment, with a spirited performance from the band perfectly augmented by Ellis’ orchestra.
That was one of the moments where it fell into place perfectly, amongst a generally great performance. It didn’t always completely click, and the group were certainly playing it safe with over seventy musicians having to keep up with them (the group was also augmented by backing singers and additional musicians), something that took away from the visceral power of their usual live show. But what it lacked in raw power it made up for in beauty, and seeing songs like Under The Milky Way, Reptile and Tantalized with Ellis’ tasteful arrangements was a great experience. And in that sense it was certainly success, a bold move that paid off as another great, unique moment in a tremendous thirty-year career. ” – by esquared