Tonight’s sold out show sees Australian legends the church take us into An Intimate Space, playing one song from each album in reverse chronological order as befits the opening of their 30th anniversary acoustic tour. The band – currently riding a new wave of recognition following Steve Kilbey’s notorious ARIA Hall Of Fame acceptance speech – are having a ball, engaging with the audience in a warmer-than usual manner and playing their hearts out (later, we even get a non-rehearsed Girl From Ipanema).
Starting with Untitled #23’s Pangaea, the song selection is near-impeccable, spanning acoustically re-envisioned fan favourites and certified classics including the jazzy Reptile, The Unguarded Moment, Under The Milky Way, Metropolis, Fly, Almost With You and the church‘s first EP highlight Tear It All Away. In great spirits tonight, Steve’s banter brims with trademark comedy gold (“That T-shirt design and the church condom were a mistake”, he quips before launching into Hologram Of Baal’s Louisiana), with Marty Willson-Piper and the normally-reserved Peter Koppes not far behind.
Yet it’s the four-piece’s stellar music that ultimately steals the night. A stone-cold cult gem, Ionian Blues is given a stripped-down piano treatment; Peter sings the mantra-like Appalatia and Steve takes After Everything Now This’ Invisible to the moon and back. From 1992’s “magnum hopeless” Priest=Aura, Mistress tugs on the heart strings while an upbeat Comedown and the gorgeous My Little Problem get respectively plucked from the mid-’90s “wilderness” albums Magician Among The Spirits and Sometime Anywhere.
As we enter the pre-Starfish domain during the second half, a magisterial Already Yesterday takes hold of one and all. With drummer Tim Powles unleashing some levitating percussion work, Marty and Steve create a dense 12-string storm on the former’s 10,000 Miles. Because we don’t want the the church to leave just yet, we get a killer cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ Disarm, a rocky Space Saviour and the cathartic, “Elizabethan” Grind for the encore. A truly magical evening at the Judy.