Live Review: Kim Churchill + Steve Smyth + Riley Pearce – Mojo’s Bar, Perth (05.06.14)

Kim Churchill’s national tour made it to Fremantle on Thursday night, with a packed out mid-week show at Mojos, the second of three shows in Western Australia. Impressively and a little surprisingly roughly 80-90% of the crowd were already milling about outside the venue before the doors had even been opened, guaranteeing a great atmosphere right from the start.

Local singer-songwriter Riley Pearce, freshly returned from an exchange trip to the US, kicked off proceedings. It seems Pearce’s time in America was a fruitful one, with much of the set made up of new songs, many of them written whilst away overseas. He also seemed to be more confident on stage, in part no doubt to there being a much bigger crowd from when I saw him last. “Brave” was a definite highlight, there were other, but in a moment of editorial oversight I didn’t get chance to note down their names. Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the release of EP #2.

NSW’s Steve Smyth was up next onto the Mojo’s stage, for what has to be one of the more entertaining and slightly audacious sets I’ve witnessed in a while – I mean who attempts to go acapella in a (mildly) rowdy Freo pub? Apparently Smyth does, bringing an almost stunned hush to the room with an excellent rendition of the Sam Cooke classic “A Change is Gonna Come”, his cover of “St James Infirmary” was a highlight as well; as were a number of his own songs – including the brilliant “Southland” off his upcoming album. If you get chance to see Smyth live, take the chance, you won’t regret it.

Given Kim Churchill’s recent tour schedule, shows in Canada, London and now back in Australia, you’d maybe expect a bit of tiredness to be creeping in, but there was no evidence of that on Thursday night, instead Churchill powered through an upbeat set dominated by tracks from his new album Silence/Win – though there was room in the set for a Led Zeppelin cover, and an excellent and particularly rocking cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.

Of the new tracks like “Window to the Sky” drew the biggest cheers from the crowd. “Some Days The Rain May Fall” was another of the evening’s highlights, whilst “Bathed in Black”, off Churchill’s previous record, came at the request of a couple of guys in the crowd and saw Churchill really let loose on the guitar and kick drum to the delight of both crowd and artist. Unsurprisingly the guitar work was top notch throughout, and the second half of the set saw Churchill really relax and just let loose. Whilst I would have liked to hear a few more of the slower tracks, it wasn’t really the night for it. With Glastonbury in a few weeks, and more shows in Europe and Canada it won’t be too long before the venues and crowds start to grow.

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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