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Beautiful review of Newtown show Print E-mail
Friday, 09 December 2005

This lovely and very personal review was posted on hotelwomb and I hope its OK that I've copied it here; everyone should be so lucky as to reach this kind of happiness, especially from music.

Ever met someone with whom you have such an intense, immediate spiritual connection that it seems something more than random ? I won't speculate on the mysteries of the universe, past lives or hidden realms but - this is how I feel about the Church. There is something they do for me, some place only they can take me which defies rational analysis.

I could tell you that they are supremely creative songwriters, accomplished musicians, exceptionally entertaining performers, witty and wise commentators on life and the music industry. I could tell you how much I admire and respect their tenacity, their passion and their matchless dedication to their art. Or I could simply tell you that I have loved them for over 20 years with an intensity that never seems to diminish. And never will.

But none of this description, no superlative can capture the moment that comes in every Church gig for me, when I just feel some sense of perfection, when they manage to wrench me away from all the inevitable struggle of mortality and elevate me to a place of pure sensation. Forgive me if I sound like a tragic hippy, but for me this is better than any drug. It's the deepest kind of liberation, a transformation where time and space seem momentarily suspended. Last night this happened for me in such a way that I found myself shaking and speechless at the end of the gig. Have you ever been there, my friends ? Every time I just pray I get to go there again.

Last night I was longing to see them and the thunder and lightening in the Sydney sky seemed an appropriately dramatic first act, in the absence of a support band (sick, apparently). So we sat in the comfy lounge chairs, inhaled the incense and waited. They stroll onstage in white and Steve tells us "the trouble with Sydney audiences is that you're all too nice, you're all saints " . He is totally in his element : so amusing and impeccable timing all night. And that voice, that voice.

Set list is (I think) same as before, however we also have It's No Reason with Sophie G and Amanda B on strings - this is beautiful. Strings also enhance Violet Town, Maya, Sealine (and ?? ). Sealine with strings turns into a fantastic slightly Beatles thing, think I Am the Walrus. Or maybe I'm imagining it. Heard they're doing Day of the Dead next week, mmm !

Could spend hours telling you how great the songs are and how amazing it is to watch everyone swap instruments (Tim, or "Ming the Merciless" as Steve calls him, on piano, Marty on drums). 2 Places was totally mind-blowing, All I Know quite lovely and great to hear Buffalo again. And just how good is the new song Day 5 ? All space and restraint, making me wonder if ULTC is full of such unimagined pleasures (you know the answer is gonna be : YES)

Steve introduces UTMW as "a mega international, cross-cultural, trans-global hit". "Yeah, even the stupid people liked it", adds Marty. Mass appeal, perhaps, but this song (the Albatross / Golden Goose) has never been better. For EMD, Marty has rearranged the melody line slightly in this song and it seems to have slowed down to the point where every moment of poignancy is refined from its already delicate heart. I confess to being moved by this song in its new incarnation more than ever before. Like watching a painter add almost imperceptible colour to redefine brilliance, I have watched the Church do this time and time again with total admiration. This is what sets them apart.

Almost With You is introduced with Steve's hilarious comment about it featuring at the footy Grand Final ("is this the taste of victory" repeated ad nauseam) which make him feel like..."kicking someone in the balls" offers Marty. Watching Peter and Marty play this again reminds you (if you ever needed reminding) just how few bands are blessed with two such incredibly talented guitarists.

Tim wanders offstage before a song which prompts Steve to suggest they lost their last drummer when he went to the toilet at the Doyalson RSL back in the 80s and never returned. "Actually, he's still there (Pause...) Probably made the right decision !" As I watch them play Just For You I get this total flashback : Steve clean-shaven in his polka dot shirt, Marty too dazzling to look at in those red pants, the mad blonde drummer instead of the witty bald drummer and Pete almost unchanged. I liked them back then - it's just that I love them so much more now. Then they were jangling, young and brilliant. Now, every year they reveal true depth and substance that is infinitely more satisfying. Let us never forget how rare and precious this is, in an industry where instant gratification is the ruling force.

And suddenly, when they reach Tristesse, the whole "white thing" makes sense. It's pure, it's peaceful, it's all and nothing at all. Here they come to offer us some brief communion before "all this is no more". I don't know about you but I surrender to it with absolute gratitude. I value, and always will value, above all else, their ability to just rise above it all.

The encore is just sublime : Invisible, littered with lines from Heroin (I think), Because the Night (tribute to Jay Dee ?) and If I Had a Hammer. But you don't want to be anywhere else on earth when they play Constant in Opal, with Peter on harmonica and Marty's right hand blurring, his hair falling over his eyes, Steve in a trance and Tim's hypnotic beat coming through the floor underneath you. Have I ever mentioned this is the Church song I'd most like to make love to ? (Heather once dared me to start that thread, but I failed to take up the challenge!)

It's another unforgettable night, topped off by receiving a beautiful message from Ernst. Missed you, my dear friend (T-shirt in the mail!) Absence makes the heart grow fonder - or maybe it just hurts. Thank God, at least for next week. These moments are worth waiting for...and I'll always be there waiting.

Last Updated ( Friday, 09 December 2005 )
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