Factory Theatre, Sydney
6th December 2012
The most remarkable thing about The Church, and there are many remarkable things about this enduring Australia band, is how better they get with age. Memories seep past of watching them just down the road, in what seemed for all intent and purpose their final show with guitarist Peter Koppes bowing out (later bowing back in again). How different the mood tonight from the fractured awkwardness of 20 years past. When success and its pursuit of becomes secondary to making and performing music, the true nature of a band shines through.
Having dispensed with the watered down acoustic renditions and the recent ‘Future-Past-Perfect’ albums-in-full performances, The Church are now free to stretch their legs in any direction they like, which in itself presents just as many problems for a band held together by a democracy. Vocalist Steve Kilbey’s explanation revealing the rules behind the art/rock nature of the show — each member chose four songs to make the set, which throughout the duration of the show caused Kilbey to exclaim more than once — “Ok, who picked this one?”.
There should’ve been a sign on the door which said “Starfish-free zone”, for this was not a casual fan and acquaintance show. The celebrated moments that have defined The Church were eschewed for the rarely played and never played. It was a fan’s (and band’s) delight, an excuse to indulge without being indulgent. From the early-careering excitable rush of “Is This Where You Live” which opened the show, into the hidden gems of the back catalogue, where the band’s 2003 album Forget Yourself received the most attention. Throughout the show, the band joked and laughed, Kilbey pirouetting across the stage, half ballerina, half mime, thrilling to their accumulated decades of song.
Tonight’s show was one of those rare moments in a band’s career where you got to witness a ‘fuck the audience’ set. Anything that was called out for admonished by guitarist Marty Willson-Piper — “play Reptile — something nobody in The Church has ever said”, yet when the call for “The Unguarded Moment” arrived during the first encore, it was mock dismissed by Kilbey, only for the familiar chords to ring out and a rendition that followed was so faithfully and sincerely delivered that most old fans didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. Yet, two and a half hours later, the night still wasn’t over. And for The Church, let it never be over.
Setlist: Is This Where You Live, Chaos, Night Friends, Anchorage, Appalatia, Nothing Seeker, Block, Lunar, Ripple, When You Were Mine, The Theatre And Its Double, Field Of Mars, Sealine, Maya, You Took, On Angel Street, Snowfaller, Constant In Opal // The Unguarded Moment, Space Saviour, Tantalized