LIVE REVIEW: The Church in Cambridge, MA (03.31.23)
After playing their first song, singer/bassist Steve Kilbey said: “We’re The Church and we’re glad to be here” then he jokingly whispered “where are we?” That’s the nature of touring, of course, days blurring together when you’re in a different city nearly every night. The band knew where they were as evidenced when Kilbey introduced the touring band members and each played a riff from Aerosmith or the Cars. A thoughtful, well-received touch.
A sold-out crowd convened at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass. on Friday, March 31 to worship The Church. The band played for 2 ½ hours, including an encore, and performed 22 songs. The night featured nostalgic songs from the band’s back catalog –a whopping 26 albums–as well as new songs from their latest album The Hypnogogue.
Kilbey said the new album was their best album and joked “at least that’s what my psychiatrist says.” The superb album imagines a dark, post-Apocalyptic, futuristic world. It’s an environmentally and socially conscious concept album. . In introducing the title track, he said that they “suck music out of dreamers and no one knows the consequences.” Stand-outs included the darkly moving “No Other You” and the upbeat, enthralling “C’est la Vie.”
They played their well-known, popular songs from 1988’s Starfish: a potent “Destination,” the infectious “Reptile” and an enthralling “Under the Milky Way” which Kilbey said had been featured in an episode of Miami Vice. It’s also the song that made the Top 40 chart in the United States. The Church formed in 1980 in Sydney, Australia. Kilbey is the only remaining original member. Pre-Covid, in 2018, The Church were at the Sinclair for the 30th Anniversary of Starfish.
Early on Kilbey said they’d just touched the surface of the songs and that the “set list is written across the stage.” I caught a glimpse of the set list later and it was on two sheets of paper. Kilby likes to tell stories between songs, whether reminiscing about the 1992 album Priest=Aura that “didn’t go down well at the time and Rolling Stone gave a 2 star review” before playing the moody dazzler “Kings” or before playing “Metropolis,” telling the audience to “Imagine you’re walking in Brookline to that bookstore and you hear this on a transistor radio.” He has a sonorous, calming voice that would be perfect for those nighttime stories to put you to sleep. Some of his stories for the new album sound like something you’d hear on an experimental college radio show. This night he provided a steady, comforting vibe to accompany the mesmerizing, dreamy music.