These words take on greater meaning each time I see The Church play live. After 30+ years playing together as a band, through the headiest of highs and the darkest of lows, they have emerged as one of the most consistently breathtaking live acts on the planet. And last night’s show at Twin Towns was no different.
As the stage fades to black, the band bounce on stage, exuding youthful energy and leap into the swirl of opening number, Aura from fan (and band favourite), Priest = Aura. This song has at its hear the essence of everything I love about the band: the grooving pulse of Steve Kilbey’s bass, the percussive drive of Tim Powles and the intoxicating guitar interplay of Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes. From Aura, they slide straight into one of my personal favourites, Sealine (from the criminally underrated, Forget Yourself). Steve is relieved of bass duties and is free to roam the stage, summoning the glittering spirit of the mirror ball dancing above him. As a front man, Kilbey is animated, throwing himself into every note of the song. Pangaea (from their modern classic, untitled #23) is up next, rounding out the opening clutch of songs.
The rest of the show is studded with some gems from their back catalogue: Metropolis (Steve announces that it is 21 years since they troubled commercial radio with this song), the chiming, Almost With You, the epic guitar freakout of You Took (for me, one of the set highlights, with Peter pressing his guitar into the amp stack creating a delicious wall of feedback), the song that has become our unofficial national anthem, Under the Milky Way, the riff-o-rama of Tantalised, the always slinky, Reptile, the sonic luminosity of Destination, the pummel and sway of, Grind and a joyous, Unguarded Moment, which Steve declares, is a song they have taken off mothballs just for the Twin Towns crowd, a song that when discovered in another 500 years will put a curse on its finder.
Each of these gems shines with diamond-hard-clarity, but it is The Disillusionist and Angel Street where the band are most triumphant. The Disillusionist is a hypnotic blend of theatre, spoken word and dark carnival whirls. Kilbey is shamanistic, cracking and warping and writhing across the stage. And Angel Street leaves a deep ache, as Steve leads us on an intimate, noirish journey to the crashing end of a relationship.
Sitting in the audience, it is hard not to feel buoyant as the crowd tonight (well at the least the people near me) are happy just to lose themselves in the music.
And for me, the day was made extra special when young T.H.E. Nunn met Steve Kilbey and was given a poet’s blessing; Steve chanting, ‘you will not rebel by hating poetry, you will love poetry, you will be a poet, you will remember these words.’
Roll on Christmas eve… as the band are playing their second show on the Brisbane leg of the Future Past Perfect Tour, where they play three classic albums – untitled #23, Priest = Aura & Starfish – in full… it’s going to be three and a half hours of bliss to kick off the festive season!
Here’s some brilliant live footage of the band playing Priest = Aura live, to let your heads unwind.