Live Review: The Church / Helio Sequence at the Neptune Theatre 9/8

Live Reviews
Alan Lawrence
all photos by Alan Lawrence (view set)

On Saturday night, a small, but hardcore, audience gathered at The Neptune to enjoy a band that’s been touring steadily for 35 years. The Church is one of the few '80s bands that’s continued to put out new music throughout their long career and this tour is to support their 26th album Man Woman Life Death Infinity which is due October 6th via their own Unorthodox Records imprint.

The lineup has changed over the years, most notably when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper left the band a couple of years ago. This was a major event as Marty and bassist Steve Kilbey had been the only consistent members during their long history. Co-founding guitarist Peter Koppes took a break in the '90s but he is back with the band and current drummer Tim Powles joined around that time. When Marty left, the band’s sound was revitalized by the addition of Australian guitarist Ian Haug. Haug, formerly of the classic rock-tinged Powderfinger, has given the band new energy and a bit of power that had been missing over the previous decade.

The show at The Neptune was an upbeat, energetic set spanning much of the 35 years of songs. They opened the set with two favorites “Aura” and “Myrrh” before hitting us with their first of four new songs “Toy Head”, a stripped-down, simpler Church song. The two-hour set included some great classic church tunes including “Metropolis”, “Fly”, “Tantalized” and, of course, their biggest hit “Under the Milky Way.” Two encores brought another new song as well as “The Unguarded Moment.” The band was rocking that night and Steve Kilbey was more animated than usual. At times, he gave the bass to his guitar tech to play so that he could sing with a theatrical flourish. The Church never fails to delight their followers and this show was no different.

Opening the show was the Oregon drum/guitar duo The Helio Sequence who performed a 45-minute set of their refined pop music. Seeing this band live is always a great experience. Benjamin Weikel is one of the most expressive drummers around. Singer and guitarist Brandon Summers sings and plays their finely crafted tunes beautifully. This was a great night of music.

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