DRIFTING through an illustrious career spanning nearly four decades, iconic psychedelic rock band The Church graced Newcastle with their presence again last Saturday night.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of their seminal album Starfish, and the tour saw them playing the record cover-to-cover for their first set of the night.
Jumping onto the stage early, with the surprise of having no support act, the audience welcomed them into first track Destination.
The room was quiet, bleeding with a serenade of ambient blue light, however to be brutally honest, it seemed to be lacking something.
The song felt slow and lifeless, almost a shell of the 1988 studio version.
READ MORE: Steve Kilbey on Starfish’s enduring appeal
I suppose that older rock stars, now heading into their 60s, must be ageing in a way that impacts their performance and connection to their songs.
Personally I felt like the first few tracks, in particular, were devoid of the energy that made them classics in the first place.
Following on from Destination was Under The Milky Way, an absolute classic that vocalist/bassist Steve Kilbey introduced as “that one you all like.”
I couldn’t help but smile as a song that defined my childhood played out onstage before my very eyes. The luscious jangle of duelling 12-string acoustic guitars forced some audience members out of their seats and into a frenzy of dance, as streaks of shaped white light bounced off the ceiling and the walls.
They spent the next 40 minutes pushing through the rest of the album, including my favourite, Reptile, with its rhythmic delays and harrowing lead guitar.
After disappearing for 15 minutes following Hotel Womb, they returned for a second set that played out as a mixed tape of greatest hits featuring everything from Metropolis to Almost With You.
READ MORE: Review of The Church’s 2017 Lizotte’s show
The omission of early hit single The Unguarded Moment was interesting, but I understand that after playing the same songs for 38 years and releasing 25 albums they must definitely be bored by some of their older material.
It’s a shame that a band who were once so unique have turned into little more than a nostalgia act to some.
With that said though, there is still something deep within Steve Kilbey and his songs that has made The Church one of the most important Australian bands of the last half century.
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