The Church

At SOhO, Tuesday, July 18.

Reviewed by Darian Bleecher

Best known for their Top 40 single “Under the Milky Way,”
Australian art-rock band the Church launched its acoustic U.S. tour
at SOhO last Tuesday night in support of their critically acclaimed
new release, Uninvited, Like the Clouds. After 26 years
and near as many albums, the astonishingly prolific band continues
to weave breathtaking, innovative music. Long ago abandoning
concerns of commercial success, the Church creates lush, elegiac
soundscapes on its own terms.

Led by “minister of melancholy numbers” Steve Kilbey, the Church
toured the devoted crowd through nearly three hours of its
extensive musical canon, revisiting past material along with
compositions from the new album. Joshing between songs about the
longevity of the band, the Church presented elegant, sumptuous
arrangements and elaborate, spontaneous jams.

Opening with Uninvited’s dusky, atmospheric “Block,”
the band immediately graced the crowd with favorites “All I Know,”
featuring Peter Koppes’s staccato mandolin contrasting with
Kilbey’s languid vocals; and a tongue-in-cheek, Spanish-tinged
rendition of “Metropolis,” juxtaposing guest Patti Hood’s delicate
harp with guitarist Marty Willson-Piper’s furious strumming. The
audience basked in the otherworldly Arabian motifs of “Grind,” the
magnificent soaring crescendos of “Providence,” and the majestic
guitar structures and languid narration of Uninvited’s
“Day 5.”

Over time, the Church has developed a magical collective
creativity, and that collaborative jam-band spirit was evident. The
expansive, Eastern-tinged “Two Places at Once” featured alternating
Willson-Piper and Kilbey vocals. “Sealine” saw numerous instrument
changes, with Willson-Piper on drums, Koppes on guitar, and Tim
Powles on keyboards. Though Koppes led the vocals on “A New
Season,” and Willson-Piper lent his pipes to “Tristesse” and the
bluesy new “She’ll Come Back for You Tomorrow,” Kilbey’s laconic
vocal intonations remain the band’s gold standard. Willson-Piper’s
thin voice doesn’t hold a candle to the sublime nuances of Kilbey’s
velvety murmur or to his own considerable instrumental prowess.

Far from becoming pumpkins as the witching hour approached, the
band favored the still-enthusiastic crowd with two encores,
including the first-ever U.S. airing of “The Unguarded Moment,” and
a rendering of “Constantinople,” laced with lyrics from “Because
the Night” and “If I Had a Hammer.” Even after over a
quarter-century of musical experimentation, the Church remains
unparalleled, intriguing, and unpredictable as ever.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.