posted on January 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm

The Church
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.


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