A peculiar sense of time travel took hold while I swayed in thrall to one of my all-time favourite bands at The Triffid, Brisbane’s newest and greatest rock venue.
My faith in The Church had just risen to a new high, somewhere outside the space-time continuum.
It was like the gigs of old, in music venues long gone. Perhaps because those of us gathered at this altar were all of a certain age. But also because there was that sense in the room that we were present to witness something truly remarkable — a glimmer of the zeitgeist that proves so foreign and elusive as years and decades roll on.
The Church formed in Sydney in 1980, finding great success in Australia and momentary fame in the US in 1988 with one big hit song, Under The Milky Way. A certain success continued into the ’90s, followed by the fade to black that grips virtually all creators of popular music.
Passion and talent must interact in equal measure for any work of art to rise above the noise and capture attention and acclaim. It’s also been my observation these key ingredients will only combine to make magic for so long.
Decline into mediocrity is usually impossible to avoid.
Which is why it’s so remarkable that The Church, all these years later, have found their way into a purple patch of awesome.
A number of factors are contributing to the relighting of the flame — former Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug joining the band is undoubtedly one of them.
Then there is the incendiary songwriting of Steve Kilbey, who is somehow making music that sounds simultaneously brand new and 35 years old.
Renowned hypnotic signature guitar riffs mix with hints of New Romantic synth in songs that have been gloriously set free from the constraints of trying to be the next big thing in pop.
Good music always embraces a hint of the familiar, while likewise breaking new ground in rhythm and melody.
It’s easy to get that wrong by sliding too far toward the derivative. On any given day on any music station in the world there is ample proof of that.
That The Church are getting it so right is both remarkable and unexpected.
So here we were in the presence of brilliance, watching a band with enthusiasm for their work and a genuine appreciation for their audience.
It’s enough to make time feel like a fluid concept. No drugs needed. At least not on my part — I can’t speak for the band.
Their new album is called Man Woman Life Death Infinity. Yep, that pretty much sums things up.
Listen to it more than once. You won’t be sorry.