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Reviews of 2010 US Tour Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 April 2010

A collection of reviews from around the web of the 2010 "An Intimate Space" acoustic tour


A really nice review from Tony of PlayNetwork, at his blog.

After everything, now this! It’s the 30th Anniversary of The Church! (It’s not a religion, it’s just a technique) Hard to believe on some levels, but then again, it’s been so long since I’ve been without them. Thankfully. To celebrate, the band has invited us to the party. Specifically, they are currently touring the US semi-acoustically. The shows, dubbed “An Intimate Space“, are just that. If you are the gal who remembers The Church song ‘Under The Milky Way‘ from her dorm-room days and you want to drag your sugar-daddy to the show, i fear that you will be dreadfully disappointed (but go anyway). If you are, like me, a massive fan who knows ALL the songs and has ALL the albums, then do not miss this tour!

It’s a sit-down affair, with anecdotes, good-natured jabs and friendly banter between band-members before and after each song. Not only that, but The Church are playing 1 song from every official release in reverse chronological order, and with 1 obvious exception, it’s tough to figure out what is coming next. If that weren’t enough, every ticket holder gets a free program and the exclusive new ‘Dead Man’s Hand E.P.

That was the setup, now for the review…

The show starts off great without a note being plucked for there was no opening act to trudge through. The lights dimmed, the band entered. That simple, that quick, that lovely. A few hello-how-ya-doin’s in order, then the music launches. I will not list the song-list here, as i know some people like to be surprised, but i will say this is NOT a run through the singles.

photo taken with my Hipstamatic

The song ends, people clap & cheer, singer-bassist Steve Kilbey begins to tell a story and some schmuck yells “Come On” from the crowd. Steve asks indignantly, “did you say ‘come on’?”. He his visibly annoyed, but he steps off the mic and composes himself. That’s when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper chimes in with “you’ve been going to too many KISS shows”. In most cities, that would be enough to shut the guy up, but Seattle is a different beast. This guy goes on the interrupt and heckle a bit longer before security puts him out of our misery. I wish security could have done something about the drunk girl behind me, but she would not ruin the show for me, and this guy did not ruin the show for the band.

The boys are pros, i mean, it IS the 30th Anniversary! The music continues and so does the fun. The band are in great form, and although not every song works stripped down like this, most do and a few are even better for it. After 10 songs from the albums ‘Untitled #23‘ thru ‘Sometime Anywhere‘ the band leave for a short intermission allowing the crowd the stand, stretch, grab a drink or whatever else they need to do. The lights dim again and the band return for songs from ‘Priest=Aura‘ thru to ‘Of Skins And Heart‘.

Of course there’s an encore! SPOILER ALERT! Steve steps up to the mic and talks about someone showing him a YouTube clip of Smashing Pumpkins covering “Reptile” live.

So the band would like to return the favor. There are some cheers and a few jeers before Marty quips, “Hey, at least it’s not Pearl Jam’ and i am immediately grateful for the Pumpkins!

One more song, then off only to be called up yet again for the last song of the night. Then, houselights up, people out.

I’ve seen this band a number of times over the decades, and I’ve seen tons of other shows as well, but this was the most unique “rock band” show I’ve ever seen. The band was great, the company was great and it was a truly intimate night with one of my all-time favorite bands. The musicianship is stellar, with each member branching out and swapping instruments. Peter Koppes in particular was inspiring to watch. For a tall man, he gracefully breezes around playing guitar, mandolin and piano, as well as singing lead on one song and backups on most others. However, The Church’s secret weapon is kept at the back in the shape of Tim Powles. Still the “new guy” with 15 years in the band, i suddenly had the realization that the reason there IS a 30th Anniversary for this band is because of his tireless efforts over the years. While the band never actually broke up, they were down to just Steve & Marty at one point.

Tim comes on and does double duty as drummer and producer, and i suspect mediator? A fine musician in his own right, he bounces between drums and the piano, singing backups and holding it all together.

So thank you boys for a wonderful evening and i’ll see you again soon i’m sure…


The Orange County register


The Church remains riveting in 30th anniversary acoustic tour opener at the Coach House

April 5th, 2010, 12:49 pm · 6 Comments · posted by ROBERT KINSLER, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The Church may be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010, but after catching the Australian quartet deliver a dynamic and wide-ranging performance Friday night before a packed house at the Coach House, longtime admirers can certainly be thankful this is no farewell tour.

The band kicked off its self-dubbed An Intimate Space in San Juan Capistrano with a fantastic set that, despite a few technical glitches in early on, quickly evolved into a dramatic, far-reaching celebration of the outfit’s distinctive sound and approach.

As promised in the promotion of the tour and the free colorful program passed out to fans as they stepped inside the venue (what a contrast to the $30 necessary to purchase a program at Paul McCartney’s shows earlier in the week at the Hollywood Bowl), the quartet — bassist-lead singer Steve Kilbey (pictured), guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes and drummer Tim Powles — started the show with a song (“Pangaea”) from their latest album (Untitled #23), then proceeded to offer other tunes from earlier albums in reverse chronological order as the night went on.

The group didn’t follow that formula perfectly, yet it was hard to argue with a set list that allowed the Church to play tracks that showcased its dreamy neo-psychedelic alt-rock in all its various shades.

There was edgy rock (“Space Needle”) with Kilbey kicking off the song singing to the lone accompaniment of his bass, which he strummed like a guitar before the rest of the group kicked in with force. And the band offered up a reworked version of its hit “Reptile” heavy on jazz leanings — except for the classical-styled solo Willson-Piper added on acoustic guitar.

While many casual fans likely counted the gauzy “Under the Milky Way,” the Church’s sole breakthrough hit stateside, as a favorite performance of the night, there were other selections that easily equaled it thanks to the band’s enthusiasm and lush arrangements. Indeed, all four members played a variety of instruments throughout the two-hour concert, adding countless layers to their material.

The beautiful “Ionian Blues” and “Invisible,” the Americana-tinged “Louisiana” (with Koppes adding textured mandolin) and the uptempo rocker “Comedown” came in the first set, while the second half of the show surprised at every turn thanks to the momentum of the performance. “Metropolis” allowed Willson-Piper to display his talents on flamenco guitar, while the use of 12-strings, keyboards and harmonica gave added life to that big smash “Under the Milky Way.”

During the first of the group’s several encores, Kilbey explained that because the Smashing Pumpkins had once covered a Church song, he and the group were going to return the favor — in this case, a powerful and haunting cover of “Disarm.” Truly this was a night to celebrate a great band whose music and songs still resonate. No wonder relatively few in the near-capacity crowd left before the concert came to a close at midnight.

The Church Mark Anniversary, Cover Smashing Pumpkins in NYC

The Church have been a band for 30 years, long enough to have gone through a number distinct phases, including local Australian phenomenon, international hitmaker, major-label castoff, stubborn indie survivor and finally, critical darling and cult favorite. Thursday night at New York's City Winery, the enduring jangle-pop quartet started in the present and worked backward through its various eras, playing a song from each of its 18 studio albums.

Such is the concept behind 'An Intimate Space,' a month-long 30th anniversary acoustic tour that wraps in Atlanta on May 1.

"Thirty years," lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey said at the top of the set. "How many minutes is that? How many miles?"

Despite its longevity and productivity, the Church is best known for the 1988 single 'Under the Milky Way,' its lone US hit. Since reaching No. 24 on the Billboard chart, the tune has lived a strange second life, finding its way onto both the big and small screen. In 1989, Kilbey told Thursday's capacity crowd, the song was used in an episode of 'Miami Vice,' scoring a scene featuring -- what else? -- cocaine dealers and prostitutes.

'Milky Way' also appeared in the 2001 cult film 'Donnie Darko,' which Kilbey remembers primarily for its creepy "giant rabbit" character, and a Lincoln car commercial.

"I'm thinking of a way to get the cocaine, the hookers, the luxury vehicle and the rabbit together," Kilbey said, joking that the band has managed to assemble three of the four -- it just can't seem to get its hands on a rabbit. He added, "Maybe I'm splitting hares."

It was a groaner of a line, but fans kept their jeering to a minimum. Clearly, the Church was among friends -- people who rightfully rate the group alongside Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and other such purveyors of dark, emotive, quasi-psychedelic '80s pop.

It's a style the Church long ago mastered and has never quite abandoned. Thursday's opener, 'Pangaea,' from last year's excellent 'Untitled #23' album, shared much in common with tunes from the show's second half, which found Kilbey, guitarists Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes and drummer Tim Powles revisiting such '80s and '90s classics as 'Metropolis' and 'I'm Almost With You.'

There was consistency even in the mid- and late-'90s material, which was written during a difficult time for the Church. Following the release of 1992's 'Priest=Aura,' seen by many as the Church's finest full-length, Koppes quit the band, leaving Kilbey and Wilson-Piper to soldier on as a duo.

"We've come into some very dark days, indeed," Kilbey said, prefacing 'Louisiana,' an Americana-tinged tune from 1998's 'Hologram of Baal.' Introducing the next tune, 'Comedown,' from 1996's 'Magician Among the Spirits,' Kilbey grinned and did his best imitation of a 'Behind the Music' narrator: "Darker still ..."

Of late, the still-unfolding story of the Church has taken happier turns. The group is well past its commercial prime, but it's earned the respect of critics, in-the-know fans and, evidently, Billy Corgan. During Thursday's encore, Kilbey said he was thrilled to have seen a YouTube video of the Smashing Pumpkins covering one of the Church's songs. Repaying the compliment, the group took a break from revisiting its catalog and offered its take on the Pumpkins' smash 'Disarm.' Kilbey mimicked Corgan's pained delivery, adding grit to his molasses croon. The Church may have moved beyond its "dark days," but it's still at home in the shadows.



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