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Review / The Church @ The Fleece

'Accomplished veterans of the psychedelic rock scene', Dylan Morley reviews The Church at The Fleece

By Dylan Morley, Second Year, History

'Accomplished veterans of the psychedelic rock scene', Dylan Morley reviews The Church at The Fleece

The Church came and conquered Bristol venue The Fleece on Tuesday 30th November with their impressive psychedelic rock portfolio.

A potent combination of energetic, considered and quirky, frontman Steve Kilbey immersed himself in an evolving set that began emphatically with the high tempo 1988 hit ‘Destination’. The band, appropriately dressed in an array of funky Western shirts, wasted no time in delving into their catalogue of atmospheric, occasionally ballad orientated, yet predominantly rock ‘n’ roll setlist.

The Fleece, charmingly intimate yet with a subtle aura of prestige, was packed full of local faithful who had waited all these decades for The Church’s first ever gig in Bristol. A nostalgic trip through times gone by, it at times felt like a 1980s time capsule from the forgotten heyday of live authentic rock music. The Church seized the night, expertly blending melodic acoustic chords with relentless electric strumming, in old classics like ‘Under The Milky Way’ and ‘Almost with You’ on this Starfish 30th Anniversary Tour.

The Church’s faith, however, in recent album Man Woman Life Death Infinity (2017) was evident in their setlist and justified by a receptive crowd. In new song ‘Another Century’, Kilbey’s talkative narrative helped display the fluid parameters of their genre; combining what sounded like the eerie chords of Radiohead’s Kid A and a classic Pink Floyd concept track.

The musical expertise demonstrated by the Australian stalwarts was on show throughout. The versatile Jeffrey Cain, on both guitar and keys, assisted the talented percussionist and producer Tim Knowles in providing a masterful rhythm that built the foundations of this engaging set. This impressive performance was only accentuated when English born frontman Steve Kilbey handed over his bass guitar to Cain after the opening four songs. This freed him up, transforming his focused and considered persona into an eye-catching performance with dramatic gesticulations reminiscent of an improvised theatre production.

The Church raised ‘big’ questions over the transition of life, memories and wistful regret. Kilbey used his mellow, deep-toned vocals to sing "I'm thinking it's all a dream / And I'll wake up and be gone", off 2014 song ‘Miami’, reflecting a deeper meaning to their message. This was balanced with regular quips between songs; one time joking he was the "Only person to ever come to Bristol and get sweaty", much to the delight of the local enthusiasts.

The Church finished emphatically, each member immersed in his separate crescendo of instrumental prowess, yet beautifully intertwined in melody and rhythm.

This ever-evolving Australian fourpiece deserve their status as accomplished veterans of the psychedelic rock scene, and their long overdue trip to Bristol was an emphatic success.

Feautred Image: The Chruch/ Mushroom Records

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