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Live review from 1986 Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 November 1986

A live review from an unknown source, written by John Encarnacao in November 1986.

The Church
Manning Bar, Sydney Uni
Nov 19, 1986
John Encarnacao

The band we all thought would never change is doing just that, albeit slowly. On the last Church tour, there was a noticeable tendency to "rock out", and this trend is continuing. of course, there have always been songs like When You Were Mine in their repertoire which combine an almost heavy rock approach with the lustre and sparkle that makes the Church's sound so distinctive, but on this night, the gap between the polished pop of Heyday and their live attack was more pronounced than ever.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; the opening song, a frantic Constant in Opal, was a sublime rush of sound, Kilbey spitting out the words as fast as they would come to him. The gorgeous Electric Lash, the only relic of Kilbey's glam influences, also benefited from the rough treatment, as the song's inherent sense of dynamics provided some breathing space. Another song which exemplified this power-with-finesse approach was Tristese, a tune which positively sighs with jangling beauty - Peter Koppes' and Marty Willson-Piper's guitars threading their magic lacework over Kilbey's characteristic throbbing bass.

Following their policy of dusting off a different selection of older material for each tour, Fly and In This Room were thoughtful inclusions in the set. Althouth the muscle of Richard Ploog's drums was added to Fly, the swirling, sleepwalking feel was retained. The steady, subdued pulse of the verses of In This Room swelled into each chorus, rendering eerie the line 'There are no windows in this room where we've been sitting all our lives.' These were two of the most restrained and (by no coincidence) effective songs of the evening.

Only one new songs was unveiled - Frozen and Distant [SC: Found on Quick Smoke at Spots], another example of the atmosphere chords and a well-considered arrangement, which slotted in quite nicely beside the songs from Heyday.

On the fashion side of thigns, Peter now sports a rather serious looking beard, while Marty opts for a peaked cap (see young Dylan, or Lennon circa Help!). It's interesting to note that as the rock'n'roll side of the Church gradually becomes more prominent live, a growing onstage confidence in all four members is emerging (this is especially true of Marty, who had a *ball*). Maybe the Church are finally preparing for the stadiums...

If any band could be said to have made predominantly 60s influences relevant to the 80s, it must be the Church. A timeless grasp of melody, dynamics and song structures, coupled with Steve Kilbey's ever more impressive vocals and the best guitar and (natural) drums sounds *ever*, make this band worth seeing on any occasion - even if some of the subtlety seems to have been lost. A truly divine experience.

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