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Live Review: Canberra 1984 or 85. Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 January 1984

A review of The Church playing live at Floyd's in Canberra, I'm guessing between Remote Luxury and Heyday (1984/85). It's unusual to see a live review that doesn't mention a song or album title.

The Church
Floyds, Canberra
Unknown date, probably around 1984, between Remote Luxury and Heyday.

The Church were always misunderstood. At the height of their local popularity they were one of themost clever and sincere bands around, and Steve Kilbey's lyrical nodding palm trees could only be match by Julian Cope at his surreal best. They looked embarrassed when they appeared on Countdown, and stared sullenly from teenybopper magazines at a time when Steve Kilbey craved respect as a songwriter.

The Church were never destined for huge success at home, and having exhausted the limited Australian market looked elsewhere for appreciation. Now fresh from one of their overseas missions, they seem much more optimistic and self-assured. Kilbey still shouts/talks/whispers his lyrics, but generally the band is faster, louder and tigher.

Yet the Church thrive on tension and understatement, and at Floyd's they were more passionate than I've ever seen them. Their set was a selection of their greatest hits, although they did do a new song by Marty Willson-Piper - a typically plaintive ballad, albeit with a harder edge than is Martin's usual wont. Still, it bodes well for the next album, to be recorded in July.

Highpoints of the set were the old favourites - although these, even performed with such gusto, are becoming as hackneyed as the new keyboardist's waistcoat; he, incidentally, also plays acoustic guitar on demand.

The keyboards were alwys intended to be subliminal, and as such, they keyboardist remains unobtrusive - exactly what's required. This was alays a delicately blanaced quartet, its distinctive sound hinged upon the twin guitar axis. Though they're playing with more aggression these days, that balance remains reassuringly undisturbed.

Understandably, the Church's attitude toward local audiences tends to be patronising. Having spent the last year striving to convert the uninitiated overseas (with encouraging success), it must be deflating to return home to the same reverent following - a following preprared to swallow the same old material without question.

New material is eagerly awaited. Perhaps a resurgence of local interest will follow in turn. This is one Australian band we can't afford to get complacent about, and new songs will obviate any such danger. don't be afraid to spring 'em on us.

Guy Allenby

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