‘Starfish’ may not have been the best album for The Church but most would place it definitely in their Top 3.
In sales it is certainly the biggest. ‘Starfish’ was also an American hit for The Church reaching number 11 and earning the band Gold status for sales of around 600,000.
‘Starfish’ gave The Church their only US hit single with ‘Under The Milky Way’ (no 24, 1988) but then even in Australia this was never a hit singles band. Their only song to crack the Top 20 was ‘Metropolis’ (also played tonight in the second set) and even then it only got to no 19.
‘Starfish’ was the slick sounding album for The Church. It was made in Los Angeles with LA session musicians like Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi. It was very Hollywood, right down to two songs once being used in Miami Vice.
While at the time ‘Starfish’ was criticised for being “too clean around the corners” it has found a place as one of the great Australian rock classics.
Part one of this show revisits the album from start to finish. There is no support act. The Church get right into the album and then break for interval.
The irony of celebrating 30 years since the release of ‘Starfish’ in a theatre is that The Church the album, like the band itself, was conceived through Australia’s pub culture. We are all that little bit older so evolving from the sticky carpet to the comfy seat is now the right thing to do.
Fuck we had good taste back then didn’t we? This was what a hit album sounded like in 1988. ‘Under The Milky Way’, the album’s “pop” song was a Top 40 hit.
Steve Kilbey guided the audience through the record with stories of America and even referencing going from side one to side two and turning over the album, as we did then, for track six.
Part two is a little something from benchmarks along the way such as the first hit ‘The Unguarded Moment’, another hit ‘Almost With You’ from (my favourite) ‘The Blurred Crusade’ and a setlist that stretches from 1980 to 2017. ‘Day 5’ borrowed a bit of George Harrison’s ‘Within You Without You’ but the standout track was the epic ‘Tantalised’ which highlighted the band members operating as a single unit.
Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes are the only two Church members who played on the original ‘Starfish’ recordings. For the live show, Tim Powles, on drums, has been with the band since 1994. New member Ian Haug (formerly of Powderfinger) joined in 2013 after founding member Marty Willson-Piper gave notice. Jeffrey Cain from US band Remy Zero rounds out the touring band.
The Church don’t do a greatest hits show because they were never really a hits band. This show marks a musical moment in time with a great album and a journey in part two for career fans of the band.
From Starfish, 1988:
Under the Milky Way
North, South, East and West
A New Season
Anaesthesia (from Hologram of Baal, 1998)
Metropolis (from Gold Fox Afternoon, 1990)
Another Century (from Man Woman Life Death Affinity, 2017)
Sealine (from Forget Yourself, 2003)
Constant in Opal (from Persia EP, 1984)
Day 5 (from Uninvited Like The Clouds, 2006)
Almost With You (from The Blurred Crusade, 1982)
Ripple (from Priest = Aura, 1992)
Tantalised (from Heyday, 1985)
The Unguarded Moment (from Of Skins and Heart, 1981)
Miami (from Further/Deeper, 2014)
Remaining shows are:
2 December, Canberra, Royal Theatre
4 December, Auckland, Town Hall
7 December, Adelaide, Thebarton Theatre
9 December, Perth, Concert Hall