The Church

The Church @ 9:30 Club - 3/9/15

The Church @ 9:30 Club - 3/9/15

35 years is a long time to be a band, but The Church celebrates that milestone this year. As if that weren’t impressive enough, they’ve also released their 25th album, Further/Deeper, and it’s as strong a record as any in their catalog. Last Monday, the band brought their latest tour (and first US outing in four years) to the 9:30 Club, their first show at the venue since touring in 1999 for their covers album, A Box of Birds. Although the band has seen several line-up changes over the years – the most recent being the replacement of long-time guitarist Marty Willson-Piper with Ian Haug (formerly of the Australian band Powderfinger) – and, as singer/bassist Steve Kilbey noted during the show, they haven’t seen a hit single since “Metropolis” in 1990, they show no sign of stopping or even slowing down.

In fact, they’re playing some of the most energetic shows of their career. Kilbey performs high kicks and yoga lunges with his bass in hand, showing up most frontmen half his age. Founding member and lead guitarist Peter Koppes anchors the band’s sound as he always has, yet seems more inclined to step forward and show off his impressive guitar skills. Tim Powles, who joined as the band’s drummer in 1993, keeps the beat going. Haug proves himself to be more than capable of taking his place within the band, filling in for Willson-Piper’s former role but managing to bring his own style and energy to it. The Church have a big sound befitting a large venue, and it is gratifying to see them finally playing in a space conducive to that sound in DC again.


The Church - "Vanishing Man"

The Church - "Vanishing Man"

SOUNDS LIKE:

The churning, dualing psychedelic guitars of Peter Koppes and Ian Haug, the pounding drums of Tim Powles, and the throbbing bass and half-sung, half-spoken vocals of Steve Kilbey come together to create a track that is instantly recognizable as The Church, but fresh enough to showcase a band with renewed energy and purpose. If you’re a fan of the band, or of psychedelic rock in general, you owe it to yourself to give this track a listen.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

If you haven’t been following The Church, you might be excused for thinking that they released one song, 1988’s “Under the Milky Way,” and disappeared. Though that song was a huge hit, and has since appeared in numerous places including the movie Donnie Darko and a Lincoln car commercial, the band has never met with the same level of success in the US since. While they have gone through several line-up changes over their 35 years (the most recent being the replacement of long-time guitarist Marty Willson-Piper with Ian Haug from the Australian band Powderfinger) and their sound has shifted from the concise, polished pop songs of Starfish to sprawling psychedelic soundscapes, they’ve been around for all of this time, and recently released their 25th album, Further/Deeper. “Vanishing Man,” the lead track from the album, is a strong statement of intent, the sound of a band still going strong after all these years.