THE CHURCH presents FUTURE PAST PERFECT

THE CHURCH presents FUTURE PAST PERFECT, The El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, February 2, 2011

When The Church decides to go on a tour, they certainly do so with a good deal of ambition and sheer artistry. The Future Past Perfect exhibition was almost too good to be true – 3 classic albums would be performed in their entirety, covering each of the decades of the band’s highly prolific existence. A total of 34 songs would be performed each night, an undertaking most groups would definitely shy away from, but one which The Church was able to endeavor with the greatest of ease. Over three hours of music making for one of the most memorable performances by this Australian collective ever! The sold out El Rey patrons were seated, the lights were dimmed, and a night of magic and mysticism would ensue.

The evening started with a live performance of the critically acclaimed Untitled #23 album, their dazzling 2009 effort showing The Church at their most progressive. All 10 songs were performed, opening on a harmonious note with the dynamic Cobalt Blue. Their single Pangaea was a high point that was unleashed to utter perfection.  The live rendition of Anchorage was an absolute triumph, featuring sweet female background vocals and spellbinder musical interludes. Those not familiar with the modern day meanderings of The Church were clearly enchanted by the transfixing sounds emitting from the stage. Untitled #23 is a magical effort on disc, and live it absolutely enfolds the listener into a sonic state of bliss.  Most musicians would be exhausted by the intricacies of conveying such an intensive work and would call it a night. But The Church only took 10 minutes, and would return to the stage rejuvenated and ready for more.

It was time go all the way back to 1992 and revisit the haunting Priest=Aura masterwork, and what a gem of a performance it was! An epic 14 songs were sent out to a very appreciative crowd.  Lead vocalist Steve Kilbey had to refer to printed lyrics sheets a few times, but this only added to the wonderful quirkiness of the evening. Some of the most complex, abstract lyrical insights are to be found within this time period, with opening track Aura being an instant example of the marvels that were to follow. The Disillusionist was an inspired moment, with Kilbey as a possessed beat poet spewing out the most obscure of homilies. And then there was the magnificent Chaos – a magnum opus of a song that transported the entire El Rey Theatre into an even great musical dimension. Another grand work shown tribute, and even greater glories were still was to arrive.

Starfish from 1988 was a gigantic breakthrough for The Church on many different levels. Their most successful effort,  the album spawned a monster hit single with Under The Milky Way that is still heard on radio airwaves all across the world. 10 tracks in all, very much revered by their fans and played to absolute perfection in the final segment of the night. Destination was a pulsating commencement after a break, followed by the sweeping familiarity of Under The Milky Way, which had everyone in the audience singing along. Marty Willson-Piper took on the vocals in the rocking Spark while Peter Koppes delivered a wistful lead for the marvelous A New Season. Kilbey stated there was no encore planned, but Hotel Womb made for an emotional yet cosmic way to end the perfect performance.

The Church remains a tight and magnetic union, featuring Steve Kilbey on lead vocals and bass, Marty Willson-Piper on guitar and vocals, Peter Koppes on guitar and vocals, and Tim Powles on drums. Also assisting as a special guest performer was Craig Wilson, whose wide repertoire included keyboards, guitars, mandolin, and backing vocals.

An informative program was distributed – a definitive keepsake for all attendees of the Future Past Perfect shows. The year may just be starting, but there is little doubt that many a music aficionado have already seen what will be the very best single concert by any band in the year 2011.

(Review and Photos by Kenneth Morton)

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