The Church SXSW 2015 at Emo’s Concert Review: Australian alternative act’s euphoric set ends this year’s SXSW in grand fashion.
SXSW 2015 closed out on a gloriously psychedelic note at Emo’s. Following sets by performance artist GABI, garage rockers Gateway Drugs and shoegazers Swervedriver, Aussie alt-rock stalwarts The Church gave a searing headlining set.
Frontman Steve Kilbey playfully stated that the band’s latest effort Further/Deeper was :the greatest album of all time. But he had right to be proud of the band’s new material: tracks like the lush Laurel Canyon and eerie Toy Head went down like gangbusters live. It further proves that new guitarist Ian Haug has carved out his own unique sonic territory while still meshing perfectly with veteran guitar architect Peter Koppes.
The band also catered to longtime fans with a wide swath of vintage material: 1982’s You Took was a dynamic powerhouse, with the group creating a locomotive whirlwind of sound with drummer Tim Powles going just up to the brink of collapse as Kilbey’s sinewy bassline buffered between the Koppes/Haug guitar onslaught.
Kilbey joked that the band would play their last mainstream hit, which was over 25 years ago, but that it’s not the one that you think, before breaking into 1990’s spritely Metropolis.
He put down the bass and went into theatrical dramatics for The Disillusionist, amping up the inherent sleaze of his evocative lyrics: They say that he’s famous from the waist down
/But the top half of his body is a corpse.
The band also shined its scales with Reptile, that echoing, jewel of a tune from their hit 1988 album Starfish, culminating in a orgiastic guitar explosion.
The group closed out their set with that other major hit (from Starfish), the astral ballad Under The Milky Way, before finishing with Miami, their latest epic tune from Further/Deeper (and the first song written with Haug).
Thus concluded the set, and as Kilbey stated, the band’s U.S. tour. And you couldn’t have asked for a better performance to end a tour, or SXSW 2015. 35 years in, they remain masters of their own brand of rock majesty. Long may they reign.