The Church at Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA, April 24, 2010 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Church

The Church at Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA, April 24, 2010,

May 05, 2010 The Church
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To most of the U.S. music buying populace, Australia’s The Church were little more than a one hit wonder, defined by the unassuming brilliance of their 1988 hit “Under the Milky Way.” But the truth of the matter is that The Church’s artistic reach extended years before and long after their time in the limelight. The band withstood their short period of fame and have survived to build a catalog of quality songs unrivaled by most of their ‘80s peers.

On this rainy Saturday night in Sellersville, PA, at an old converted movie theater, The Church proved why they deserve to be much more than a cult act in the U.S. The occasion of their appearance marked a milestone30 years of music makingand the format of the concert was both reflective and historical, the band revisiting their 18 core albums in reverse chronological order, playing one song from each dating back to the band’s American debut in 1981, all done acoustically. The Church were in fine form from the start, kicking off the show with “Pangaea,” from their critically acclaimed 2009 album, Untitled #23, and “Space Needle” from 2006’s Uninvited Like the Clouds, the latter with its marvelous “Heroin”-esque crescendo of noise, abated none by the concert’s acoustic format.

Singer/bassist Steve Kilbey’s voice sounded like it hadn’t aged a day since “Under the Milky Way.” Marty Willson-Piper’s guitar workhis command of dynamics, lyrical phrasing, and furiously meticulous strummingtransformed the songs within their acoustic context, whether through the waves of synchronous strumming that powered “10,000 Miles,” from 1984’s Remote Luxury, or via the majestic playing that guided the evening’s final encore song, “Grind,” from 1990’s Gold Afternoon Fix. The third original Church member, Peter Koppes (current drummer Tim Powles joined the band in 1994) was the band’s softest-spoken member of the evening, but provided one of the night’s most beautiful moments, taking lead vocals on the hushed “Appalatia,” from 2003’s Forget Yourself.

Throughout the night, Kilbey and his mates provided background and colorful anecdotes, and in structuring the concert as they did, the performance worked as something of a reverse autobiography. Despite the seriousness of the songs, the band members were in jovial moods throughout, from Kilbey’s reminiscing about the “glitter moustache” that Koppes sported when the pair met in 1973, to the evening’s running joke about the band’s acquisition of Powles for three camels. Kilbey was frank about the band’s career, lambasting the albums that did not live up to Church standards, acknowledging the turbulent periods in the band’s existence, and shamelessly promoting their extensively stocked merch table. And when it came to the point in the evening where they played the hits“Metropolis” from Gold Afternoon Fix and “Under the Milky Way” from 1988’s Starfishthe band did not shy away but dived into their more recognizable material without the disdain that many bands seem to have for their big single, while still putting a new spin on the songs, rendering “Metropolis” as a Spanish guitar-and-maracas party and accenting “Under the Milky Way” with subtle harmonica.

Whether you were new to The Church or a rabid fan (as were many who greeted the band after the show), the concert provided a wonderful opportunity to witness the genius of a band that is still so criminally underappreciated in America. Hopefully their continued success will provide them occasion to return very soon.

Set List (album in parentheses):

1-Pangaea (Untitled #23)

2-Space Needle (Uninvited Like the Clouds)

3-Reptile (introduced as “Jazzy Reptile” - El Momento Siguiente)

4-Ionian Blues (Back With Two Beasts)

5-The Unguarded Moment (El Momento Discuidado)

6-Appalatia (Forget Yourself)

7-Invisible (After Everything Now This)

8-Louisiana (Hologram of Baal)

9-Come Down (Magician Among the Spirits)

10-My Little Problem (Sometime Anywhere)

11-Mistress (Priest=Aura)

12-Metropolis (Gold Afternoon Fix)

13-Under the Milky Way (Starfish)

14-Already Yesterday (Heyday)

15-10,000 Miles (Remote Luxury)

16-Fly (Séance)

17-Almost With You (The Blurred Crusade)

18-Tear It All Away (The Church or Of Skins and Heart)

19-Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins cover)

20-Space Saviour (Untitled #23)

21-Grind (Gold Afternoon Fix)



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steve kilbey
May 7th 2010

hey man
thanks for this lovely review
sellersville was a special gig for us

Robin Danar
May 10th 2010

great description of the band, the career and the shows that i was lucky to have seen on this tour.  thanks for capturing.

Billy West
July 19th 2011

This Australian band is certainly not forgotten by some and if they were to play in my area, I would be buying tickets for front row seats.

August 2nd 2011

I have read with delight, that ticket sales to this so called one hit wonder continue to sell very well. This is a great review and an honest reflection of a band that continue to entertain and remain in the industry with both feet in the door.

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