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Brett Leigh Dicks reviews an SK & MWP show Print E-mail
Saturday, 11 June 1994

Unknown Source

Concert Review




Lunapark Nightclub, Los Angeles

Saturday 11 June 1994.

With the departure of Peter Koppes at the end of their 1992 Priest=Aura tour, much speculation arose concerning The Church?s future. For over a decade the quartet had been sculpting a unique sound, one which was built as much around the charismatic interplay of guitarists Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper as it was around the dreamy lyrical imagery invoked by vocalist Steve Kilbey. Yet it was a formula which had perhaps been a little constricting.

It now appears, however, that the future of the Church was never in question. Its two remaining members, Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper, have recently re-emerged brandishing with them a new album, Sometime Anywhere. The duo has also embarked upon a month long promotional tour which, in between the obligatory interviews and personal appearances, also featured a handful of acoustic performances. The venues for these performances have been as diverse in stature as they have been in size, ranging from appearances at multi-band open air concerts, to theatres, clubs and even the odd laundromat. For their Los Angeles visit, however, the pair fittingly elected the intimate surrounds of Hollywood?s Lunapark Nightclub. Interestingly, tonight?s set offered only one song, My Little Problem, from the album they are currently promoting. Instead, Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper chose to present us with an interesting selection of older material. The duo seemed to relish the opportunity to wander through their back catalogue. Songs such as Shadow Cabinet, Tristesse and Myrrh, even in their pared down form, offered an intensity equal to any they have ever generated. While both Kilbey and Willson-Piper have long worked acoustically in their solo arenas, an acoustic pairing in the context of The Church is only relatively new. The pair work well together. Steve Kilbey?s almost lazy rhythmic strums lay a solid foundation through which Marty Willson-Piper threads his lucid accompaniment. And while the vocals are still predominantly the domain of Steve Kilbey, the inclusion of 10,000 Miles and Willson-Piper?s own Will I Start To Bleed affords the Englishman an occasion to lead the vocalising.

When not floating out his own mellow vocal tones, Steve Kilbey seems to take the opportunity to immerse himself within their sound. Eyes closed and gently caressing his 12 string, the Australian steps back out of the spotlight, lost within the music. Thus the attention is focused upon his partner, whose presence is quite the contradiction to that of Kilbey?s. Willson-Piper prowls the stage, twisting and gyrating as he urges each note from his instrument.

Given the moment, Marty Willson-Piper weaves his magic accordingly, ranging from a subtle, chiming affirmation of Steve Kilbey?s rhythm to dispensing an avalanche of untamed sound, as evident in the crescendoing Hotel Womb. But a better reflection of the evening may perhaps be found in songs such as Providence, Lost and Under The Milky Way which, for the most part, generate a more ethereal, airy feel.

As a product of their more down to earth acoustic approach, both Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper offered a relaxed stage presence. Willson-Piper particularly relished the chance to socialize between songs, enlisting the crowd?s support to ridicule a couple of hecklers and, upon admitting he had forgotten a change of clothes, managing to swap his guitar pick for a T-shirt.

Throughout the evening, the delivery of each song was met with tremendous enthusiasm from the Los Angeles? audience and, with a final encore which included T Rex?s Life?s A Gas, the pair departed to an extremely generous farewell. Much like the freedom The Church is now afforded in the studio, the direction of their sound live seems purely of their own design. While tonight they elected to lead us upon a refreshing voyage back to some favourite places from sometime within the past, similarly, their next visit may take us anywhere.

Brett Leigh Dicks

Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

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