Slim’s, San Francisco – June 12, 2009
The Church has just released their 20+ record titled Untitled #23 and don’t assume by the name that this is their 23rd effort because even the guys in the band can’t agree on the correct number. In support of Untitled #23 the band has embarked on a 26-city tour and you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you miss them. You can imagine that with such a huge catalog of songs it must be quite daunting choosing the ones that would comprise the set list for the So Love May Find Us tour of the U.S., so for those of you who only know the Australian band by their hit Under the Milky Way rest easy, it made the cut. For more dedicated Church enthusiasts you’ll be pleased with the diverse selection.
Tantalized began the night and it EXPLODED into buzzing waves of musical energy. I imagined that the front row of enthusiasts looked like the “blow away” guy from the Maxell ads of the 70s. The force was palpable as Slim’s room temperature spiked and ricocheted from wall to wall; all of that energy had to converge somewhere and it unfortunately found it’s target in drummer Tim Powles’ mixing board. The meltdown, which lasted longer than a few minutes, called for Steve Kilbey (bass, lead vox), Marty Willson-Piper (guitars, vox) and Peter Koppes (guitars, vox) to buy some time by storytelling and fooling around with different melodies that seemed to want to morph into improvised masterpieces if only given enough time. While the mostly female stage crew (Tiare and Davida, who rocked by the way) ran around trying to set things right the audience maintained their “sophistication” and graciously waited for things to be sorted. It was a mutual love fest between The Church and the Slim’s audience except when a couple of drunken guys became too verbose and brazen but they were dispatched effortlessly by Kilbey’s quick wit. I enjoy it when someone is cleverly put in their place (insulted) in a manner that misses the intended target yet thoroughly finds the mark with everyone else. There were many, many highlights throughout the set with the guys performing as enthusiastically as ever, their craft perfected by years of nurturing and feeding their talent, their skills polished and faultless throughout years of uncompromising dedication. The guitars sing better than before, the bass and drums keep the rhythm like masters and the lyrics continue to provoke thought and inspiration.
I’m thankful that I never jumped off The Church Experience, thankful I had the foresight (20+ years ago) to realize that these musicians, artists, men, would never fall short of extraordinary.
Let me just finish by saying that ALL of the songs were mini-musical land mines (classics sounding brand new, new sounding like future classics), each one detonated with an intensity so excruciatingly powerful that the musical notes and words transformed into beautiful color making the night something that transcended dimension and reason. (tsk tsk all this hippie talk – hell, people I’m in San Francisco!)
One last thing: Space Saviour is so different from the record; it’s a blistering meteorite live – GET READY!
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