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STEVE KILBEY – LYRIC’S UNDERGROUND

STEVE KILBEY (THE CHURCH)
LYRIC’S UNDERGROUND
7 March
Photos by Tibor Pink

A.C.T ‘s very own legend Mr. Steve Kilbey was set to grace us Perth fans with his presence at Lyrics Underground in Maylands. Having been in the music game with his band The Church since the early 70’s, I knew this crowd would be an eclectic mix of older ‘die hard’ fans that have followed his career since it began. Ten years ago I saw Kilbey perform with The Church (with guest Ricky Maymi) and was blown away by his enigmatic stage presence, so when the opportunity arose to see him play his solo stuff, I jumped at it. Knowing that I would, most likely, be the youngest fan there did nothing to dissuade my enthusiasm and as I set out for the show (solo also) I was anticipating an intimate encounter with this Aussie legend.

The first thing I want to comment on before I delve into the delectable sounds of support act Tanaya Harper, is the great venue that would be the setting for the evenings performance. Being a relatively new venue in Maylands which I hadn’t yet been to, Lyrics Underground had the perfect vibe. Entering through a back alley and down a flight of stairs I was pleasantly surprised by my surroundings. All dark quaint room, seductive mood lighting and even a few tables scattered around, it provided the perfect scene for this type of crowd. Plus the bar staff were super pleasant and the venue manger totally accommodating – I don’t usually rant about venues but this one I loved.

Ok back to the music… Tanaya Harper is a local Perth musician that I had heard on RTR FM but never had the chance to see live. As she casually got onstage, just her and her Fender, she mentioned that she was ‘really nervous for some reason’ which got a good laugh from the crowd and their attention piqued. From the first note that came out of her mouth, I was transported. She has a beautiful ethereal voice that translates amazingly live, both in range and carry. That, paired with her atmospheric if not quite simple guitar riffs it was a great start to the night. She opened with her track ‘The Well’ which eased us into the night with its calmative tones. After each track she provided us with some down right witty banter that had me laughing out loud at some points. Harper has a really genuine, relatable approach to the stage, talking about depression and even her struggle with bipolar, it was raw and I loved it. She gave a shoutout to her band members (who she normally plays with) and who I think she was missing as she adlibbed some of the guitar solos which again, had me laughing way too hard. For such a sultry serious style of music, she had this beautiful comic approach that made her music even more real. She played her new song – ‘Montreal’ off her new EP – Slow Motion Breakup, which had an almost Sex After Cigarettes vibe to it. After a heartfelt shout out to Emily on sound she finished with her track ‘Sleep Talker’ and left us all thoroughly sated and ready for Mr Kilbey.

As I sought my way to a good spot up front I happened to stand next to a lively older lady named Vel, who told me of her love for Steve Kilbey (had quite the crush) and for The Church. It was such a great crowd and atmosphere to be a part of and as Steve and his band (The Hoffmenn) took their spots onstage they were given a warm Perth welcome. Getting straight into it, Kilbey opened with the much loved song Providence off the 2000 album ‘Acoustic and Intimate’, which very aptly summed up the vibe of the evening.

Commanding the stage with his idiosyncratically unique movements, everyone was in his thrall. After a hearty applause from the crowd he introduced us to his incredible band, who I already knew I was going to have to google later. With Adrian Hoffmann on guitar and vocals (who he introduced as Marley Wynn due to his other musical conquest), Adrian’s father Shaun Hoffmann on drums, Shaun Corlson on guitar and vocals and the beautiful Anna Sarcich on viola, they made quite the impressive entourage. These were all obviously talented musicians and the harmonies between Kilbey and Adrian Hoffmann were absolutely incredible. After playing ‘When I Love Her She Sings’ and ‘Once’ to a more than enthusiastic response, he went on to ‘The Lonely City’ giving a cool backstory of how the song was about Sydney and his antics there.

Chatting animatedly between songs he gave off an air of one who has been on the stage for years, totally relaxed and in his element. Talking to us of Karma and comeuppance and everything in between he owned the moment totally. Playing an excellent back catalogue of his music (which is extensive), he arrived at the more upbeat sounds of ‘The Unguarded moment’ which had the crowd singing along to every word. He then went on to the song about the town he grew up in ‘Nineveh’, which had a great story to go with it. After a few more tracks he arrived at the song that brings the nostalgia out in everyone, as Kilbey put it “the song of firsts”, ‘Under The Milky Way’, which everyone had a groove to, including my gig partner for the night Vel. It was a wonderful transportated you back to when you first heard the song and the atmosphere it created. Great stuff. Rounding off the night with ‘Almost With You’, I think they knew there was no way this crowd would let them go without an encore. Within a minute they were back with three more songs for the appreciative fans. Getting through ‘Billy’, ‘Life’s a Gas’ and ‘Racing in the Streets’ we finally bade farewell to the debonair rock legend that is Steve Kilbey.

Great venue, great people and fucking great music. Thank you Mr. Kilbey and The Hoffmenn.

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