For a Thursday, Brisbane’s iconic venue The Triffid is lively. For this episode of The Church’s “Man Woman Life Death Infinity” Australian tour you can’t buy a ticket tonight for love nor money. Tonight there are people standing outside with made up signs asking to buy spare tickets. Unfortunately for them this show is totally sold out.
For those privileged to have tickets the mood is more like a family reunion – pre-show the crowd are all mingling in the packed outdoor beer garden and all are very chatty, the good folk are swapping nuggets of trivia they know of the group, but mainly talking about the places they’d seen the band and when. Most of the venues they reminisce of: The Mooloolaba Hotel, Bombay Rock and The Patch are all long since dust and in the past – probably apartments now – as are most of the towers surrounding The Triffid, but the collective excitement of the crowd tonight is very much in the now!
Once the doors open it doesn’t take long for this vacuous hangar to fill right to the back wall. The band took to the stage at a politely reasonable hour and set the pace by opening smoothly with “Aura”: a brooding and sexy number slithering in it’s own energy. The layered triple guitars built this song a mountain for Ian Haug to stand on as he punched out the first solo of the night. Front man and bassist Steve Kilbey – who is dressed in black with a waistcoat and an impeccably crisp white shirt – popped out a quick “Thank you” and “Good evening” at the end, then with some quick guitar changes we move into “Myrhh” which is a little punchier. Kilbey offers energetic yet reserved presentation as the show builds its aura.
The crowd aren’t too fond of the “Let’s iPhone this all night”, they are more enamored by the experience they are rightfully receiving.
A more emphatic “Thanks” was offered this time and we slow down as we’re goaded by ”Toyhead” then “Metropolis”.
Helped along by a crisp sound the band presents a layered performance of guitar texture and sonic architecture. Visually The Church have developed a unique way to present passionate cool without jumping around nor whilst standing still. There is no asking the crowd to sing along yet there is a total audience involvement and there is no “We’re so really really happy to be here”, nor is there any “I’m better than you so shut the fuck up and enjoy this” – its something to be seen! It’s a sharp blend of something in the middle not many groups can offer a crowd and its impressive. The real pearl in this is the way the songs are colored by a remarkable front of house sound mix – everything is in it – and for a band with 3 guitar players even the acoustic instruments can be heard just like on the record. You don’t get to hear that too often anymore. (Well done young sound man!!). Kilbeys vocals were clear and present and reflected the timber of his emotions. The band- who have perfected the style of Indy Pshcyadelia – were sublime.
Whilst the show was clearly enjoyed by all attendees, the downside is that it wasn’t long enough, but then any band who has been producing new material for over 30 years will always leave a few fans wanting more because you just cant satisfy your loyalists when you have well over 20 albums under your belt. So hey if you can get a ticket to see this show sell anything to get one – they are remarkable. If not, just buy as many albums as you can and pretend you were there tonight.
Words by John Anon
Behind the lens: Nicole Matthews