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Concert review from LA 1990 Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 July 1990

The reviewer liked the set until the last 45 minutes.

From the Los Angeles Daily News
July 18, 1990
(Show was on July 16, 1990)

Concert Review

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Church rises from Down Under

by Bruce Britt
Daily News Music Critic

Following a hard-hitting opening performance of "Pharaoh" Monday night at the Wiltern Theatre, Church lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey stepped to the microphone to make an odd announcement.

"This is a union hall," the singer explained, "so there will be few charismatic pronouncements tonight, I'm afraid."

Kilbey failed to specify just how the union that represents the Wiltern's stage workers restricted his between-song statements, but, as it turned out, the singer's reticence was welcome. The Australian band put in one of the most solid postmodern rock performances in recent memory, at least until the tail end of the set.

"Pharaoh," which is from the band's new Arista Records album "Gold Afternoon Fix," was dramatically different from the recorded version. While the album track is lethargic and murky, Monday night's interpretation was forceful and focused.

Other performances, such as "North, South, East and West" and "Terra Nova Cain" were similarly superior to their recorded versions. Either the Church needs better producers or the band is best heard in a live situation.

Surely none of the band's albums prepared fans for the sheer power of Monday's performance. The Church's albums are so atmospheric, the songs virtually waft from the speakers like ghosts. Many of the lyrics, which feature such bankrupt puns and phrases as "constant in opal" and "hotel womb," are best left unexamined.

But the band performed with such steely resolve that even skeptics could forgive them their idiosyncrasies. Former Patti Smith drummer Jay Dee Daugherty filled in for the departed Richard Ploog, and he gave the band's songs a punky edge. Guitarist Marty Willson-Piper wrung feedback from his amplifiers as if attempting to summon Jimi Hendrix's apparition.

Aside from performing original compositions, the band served up moody cover versions of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot."

Unfortunately, the Church was unable to maintain the high level of creativity. The final 45 minutes of the show were tortuous, with nearly every song showcasing psychotic guitar and repetitious, neo-psychedelic melodies.

Though it is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing rock bands around, the Church will have to explore new musical approaches if it intends to stay afloat in the postmodern rock world.

Fellow Aussies the Blue Aeroplanes opened the show with a set of winsome garage-rock tunes. The performance featured the dancing of one Wojtek Dmochowski, who executed moves from the Iggy Pop school of interpretive dance. Overall, the set was quirky enough to win the crowd's favor.

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Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

 

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