Image by: Ivan Karczewski
Concert Reviews

Concert Review: The Church Gives New Life to 88' LP Starfish And More... Much More.

Where: Auckland Town Hall, NZ
When: 04 Dec 2018
Marty Duda
I Don't Know How I Don't Know Why

The Church wowed the audience at Auckland’s Town Hall by not only performing their sublime 1988 album Starfish in its entirety, but then proving what a vital, energized rock and roll band they still are with their stunning 75 minute second set.

With music, many of us, especially those who write about it, are constantly looking for the new… the next buzz band… something to give us the same jolt of adrenaline we got when we were first seduced by music. And it seems that constant search for the new and cool sometimes causes us to forget, or ignore excellent music being made by artists who may not be the flavour of the month.

Sure, classic artists such as Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones still generate their share of press, but, aside from Dylan, few of them are making any new music worth paying attention to.

Then there is The Church.

IK THE CHURCH Townhall 08

Here is a band that’s been making consistently great records since 1980, with at least two singles, Under The Milky Way and The Unguarded Moment that penetrated the mainstream mindset.

Yet, here they are in 2018, struggling to fill the Town Hall.

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Fortunately, the band  was in good spirits, with front man Steve Kilbey quick to note his appreciation of the venue… the show had been moved from Spark Arena.

With no opening act present, or needed, Kilbey and his bandmates proceeded to make their way through Starfish, which meant playing their biggest hit, Under The Milky Way, second. Normally, this would be seen as problematic, but what followed was anything but a letdown.

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Under The Milky Way may be the tune that everyone knows, but the rest of the album turns out to be filled with gems such as Lost, A New Season (sung by guitarist Peter Koppes) and Reptile... easily the high-point of the first set as guitarists Koppes and Ian Haug expanded and improved on the original.

After Hotel Womb, an intermission was taken, wine glasses were refilled and bladders emptied.

Anyone who left, thinking they’d seen and heard all they needed, made a serious mistake.

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It turns out that the Starfish set proved to be just a warmup for what was to come…75 minutes of inspired, guitar-driven rock and roll.

As Kilbey pointed out before launching into Constant In Opal, a relatively obscure tune from a 1983 EP, “The roll has to equal the rock”.

He’s not wrong.

And from there the show took off in a guitar-infused frenzy.

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I should point out that in addition to Koppes and Haug, the band featured a third multi-instrumentalist, Jeffrey Cain. There were many times during the show when all three were playing guitars, often 12-twelve-strings, serving up more jangle-rock than a band full of Peter Bucks.

I should also point out that the lighting was a perfect complement to the music... never overwhelming it, but always enhancing the listening experience. There were times when I shut my eyes to take in the sound, then was even more entranced when I opened them to find the stage awash in red, or pulsating blue.

The show was a seated event, up until the encore.

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When the band… and I should mention drummer Tim Powles (a Kiwi)… returned with The Unguarded Moment, many in the audience could no longer contain themselves and the front of the venue was full of happily dancing fans.   

Then the band deftly shifted from their first album to their twenty-first, closing out the night with an epic performance of Miami, from 2014’s Further/Deeper, proving that The Church is no nostalgia act and that this is a band that still has something to say.

Radio 13 thanks and credits Ivan Karczewski from Kioui Pix for all the images featured in this article.

The Church set list:

First Set:

  1. Destination
  2. Under The Milky Way
  3. Blood Money
  4. Lost
  5. North South East West
  6. Spark
  7. Antennae
  8. Reptile
  9. A New Season
  10. Hotel Womb

Second Set:

  1. Anaesthesia
  2. Metropolis
  3. Another Century
  4. Sealine
  5. Constant In Opal
  6. Day 5
  7. Almost With You
  8. Ripple
  9. Tantalized
  10. The Unguarded Moment
  11. Miami
Written By: Marty Duda Marty is the man, the myth, the legend.

What people are saying

  • Deb - 15 days ago

    Great review..I saw them on Sunday and what you've said in your review totally sums up exactly what I saw..felt..experienced!.take me back to 1986 or so and I can honestly say what they have going on in 2018 is every bit as polished..if not better actually..as it ever was! Best thing I've done in years was getting those tickets..also the pics you've included are great! Thanks for your review Marty.
  • Danny Watkins - 15 days ago

    Great review! I saw this band not too long ago and thought their energy was amazing. Not many bands can boast new music as good as that of their heyday.
  • Paul Lightfoot - 15 days ago

    Good review by someone who knows this bands work. Refreshing.
  • Adam Muir - 15 days ago

    Wonderful review, refreshing to witness no bile or malice. Obviously a music fan.
  • Stephen. Troisi - 14 days ago

    Saw them @ The Palais in Melbourne, last Saturday, superb. So many highlights, version of Tantalize, fantastic & the closing Miami, incredible.
  • Adrian - 14 days ago

    Nice review Marty, and a great concert. "more jangle-rock than a band full of Peter Bucks"; high praise indeed!
  • Marty Duda - 14 days ago

    Thanks for the kind words. T'was an excellent night of rock & roll!
  • Barry Brown - 14 days ago

    Great review of a great school-night out. I went in really only knowing 4 songs really well, the second song, the second last song, plus Reptile (definitely improved, as mentioned) and Metropilis. I came out a much bigger Church fan, especially of Tantalise and Miami. Wow!! I'd loved to of heard Electric Lash from Seance, but can't complain one bit about the 11 other songs they chose to play outside of Starfish.
  • Chris Kemp - 14 days ago

    Outstanding show what a bonus to hear starfish in full and then the second set ... exceeded my high expectations ... amazing photos
  • Johnny Lane - 14 days ago

    It's always great to see so much talent get a great venue but perplexed it wasn't full. The show was bloody good with Tantalised being my highlight. That's only their 3rd visit here as the Church.
  • Jimmy Calico - 12 days ago

    A wonderful gig. Revitalising. Nourishing. A reaffirmation of the power of guitars, melody, lyricism, harmony and ‘grown up’ rock and roll. Thank you


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