Crest Of The Wave
22 February 2011
the church from Australia is playing some of the best music on planet Earth right now. They’re in Atlanta Tuesday night at 7 PM at the Variety Playhouse,1099 Euclid Avenue. If the music is anything like it was in NYC at the Highline
Ballroom, I would not miss the opportunity to experience a concert of a lifetime.
the church has been together for more than 25 years, playing exotic rock/alternative music with two of the finest most beautiful yet often pungent guitarists of the recorded music era. Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper are just fantastic in person, playing and jamming off of each other. Then there’s the bass player in the middle, who sings most of the songs and leads the band, Steve Kilbey. He’s become very good looking in his older years, lean yet muscular, dancing through each song, conducting the music. And the drummer is solid, Tim Powles, backing up every innuendo and accent the up front guitar/bassists place amidst all the ever changing themes and leads. There’s also a young mop haired Craig Wilson on the keys and guitars filling in lots of holes, playing riffs and leads and background openings.
This band is so professional now, they decided to do this brief American tour that ends in Atlanta, by playing three albums, all songs in order, in three separate sessions, with two intermissions, and no encores. They started off with their very unusual critically acclaimed ‘Untitled #23? that opens with ‘Cobalt Blue’- available for sampling on the church website. This has a Beatles-esque refrain that haunts and entrances. ‘Desert wind in a telephone box…’ is the first line.
Don’t expect simple un-creative lyrics. Poetry abounds, and not just simple easy images of love. But it seems each and every tune, especially on Untitled #23, has some fine lovely guitar work somewhere in it, often Koppes and Willson-Piper trading off, lifting each other to greater heights. And Steve Kilbey is great on the bass but then sometimes he plays guitar. Watching these guys play, there seemed to be something totally new and unpredictable making you glad you were alive to see this level of musicianship surprising you song after song during this benchmark concert. Anchorage will be song #8 on your list in the very first set. Lyrics…’Music of the snow the template of a flake/Nature you don’t know/A nice delicious ache/The conscience of a fox….
The second album showcased is the 1992 release ‘Priest=Aura’ which I apparently did not appreciate for its terrificness. The CD tho hasn’t all the guitar on it like the band gave us with voluptuous energy in NYC LIVE!! Especially the first song ‘Aura’ which started like a classical magical fugue almost – Craig Wilson doing the honors on the keyboard – and then Marty Willson-Piper performed his best guitarwork for the last half of this 7 minutes plus tune. I thought that was the highlight of the entire concert, so get back early after the first intermission and really enjoy yourself with ‘Aura’. This 1992 album is not all melody and lush beauty. There is a 9 minute tune called ‘Chaos’ that is rather dissonant but really jammy and together. Then there is the very disturbing ‘The Disillusionist’ that Kilbey really shakes you up with, the last 20 or 30 seconds of this piece sung a cappella. ‘Feel’ is great, the most melodic tune from the
album. ‘Kings’ is a staccato-guitared piece to throw you back in time, but with today’s instrumentation instead of lutes and flutes. ‘Mistress’ is the only tune I missed from my front table seat, but I still loved hearing it from the bathroom.
The evening finished with the very popular ‘Starfish’ album released in 1988, highlighted by ‘Destination’ the first song. The opening spacy stark single guitar notes slowly charm you into Steve Kilbey starting to sing the lyrics which include:
‘Our documents are useless or forged beyond believing/Page forty-seven is unsigned/ I need it by this evening/In the space between our cities a storm is slowly forming/ Something eating up our days/I feed it every morning/Destination destination’.
Then comes the great ‘Blood Money’ an all-time classic, and then ‘Lost’ all the way to ‘New Season’ and the final lovely wistful rocking ‘Hotel Womb.’
It was a wonder to be there, listening to what I think actually is the best music being made on Earth now – including electric guitars, if I might add that limitation. The music is almost classical. And the church played with vitality and joyous energy. If I don’t go to another concert for the rest of my life, this one could get me through…but I’d love to see them play again. Next big concert is supposed to be at the Sydney Opera House with a 70-piece orchestra, so sez Steve Kilbey. (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) Yes! This is what music is all about. the church love what they do, the music the make, the opportunity to jam, to make beautiful unexpected sounds and riffs and melodies, while loosening up your mind with their lyrics and singing. Do NOT miss the church on Tuesday in Atlanta! You’ll regret it when you
hear some of what was going on in the inevitable aftermath of internet exposure. See more at (and have a bitta listenin’)”