The Church Co-Headline Brooklyn Paramount With Afghan Whigs On A Hot & Steamy NYC Night

A destination venue for industry veterans and rising stars, Brooklyn Paramount hosted The Church and The Afghan Whigs for their second co-headlining show on a 19-date tour this past Thursday evening, June 20.

Originally opened in 1928 and dubbed ‘America’s first movie theater built for sound,’ Brooklyn Paramount reopened its famed doors in the heart of downtown this past March, and since doing so, has seen a constant stream of genre-spanning musical talent – with a full slate of artists scheduled well into December. The night’s festivities were presented by WFUV, a non-commercial radio station owned by Fordham University, located on its Bronx campus, and nationally recognized for its alternative music format.

Fans wait in line ahead of entering Brooklyn Paramount | Photo Credit: Michael Dinger

Providing opening support was Kristin Hersh, who in addition to her solo work which often features emotional vocals delivered in raw, visceral manner, is best known for her singing and songwriting in the alternative rock band Throwing Muses. Taking a lone seat at center stage promptly at 7:30 pm, Hersh warmed up the large swarm of fans who arrived early to see her 30 minute set, which comprised three Throwing Muses offerings and four tracks selected from her eleven solo albums – Hips and Makers (1994), Sunny Border Blue (2001), Crooked (2010) and Clear Pond Road (2023).

At 8:10 pm, The Afghan Whigs appeared onstage and immediately launched into a 15-song set spanning a nearly four decade career. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, the duo of frontman Greg Dulli and bassist John Curley – who started it all way back in 1986 – are cited as having influenced several musicians of high esteem in their own right, including fellow Ohio natives The National, Interpol, and The Gaslight Anthem, to name but a few.

Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs | Photo Credit: Michael Dinger

An eclectic blend of alternative and indie rock, post-punk, grunge, and for good measure, R&B, the hour-long set kicked off with “Pantomima,” the lead single from Dulli’s 2020 solo album Random Desire. Apart from an astounding cover of English singer-songwriter Martina Topley‐Bird’s “Too Tough to Die” midway through, The Afghan Whigs gifted its fans several of what are considered the best tunes from their nine studio album catalog.

Standout numbers from the night included the moody and atmospheric “Debonair” (Gentlemen, 1993), fan favorite “Algiers” and “Matamoros” (Do to the Beast, 2014), the introspective “Oriole” (In Spades, 2017), and “Somethin’ Hot” (1965, 1998), featuring a driving rhythm accompanied by a sound palette of power guitar riffs and energetic percussion.

John Curley of The Afghan Whigs | Photo Credit: Michael Dinger

The Church are touring off the strength of their most recent two albums, the universally hailed album The Hypnogogue, and its companion science fiction concept album Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars, released in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The Aussie psych-rock quintet of founder Steve Kilbey (lead vocals, bass), long-time collaborator Tim Powles (drummer), Ian Haug (guitarist formerly of Australian rock icons Powderfinger, who joined the band in 2013), Jeffrey Cain (multi-instrumentalist who has been a full-time member since early-2020), and Ashley Nalor (touring guitarist and backing vocalist for The Church since February 2020, best known for fronting the Melbourne-based band named Even) silently slithered onstage under the cover of darkness at approximately 9:45 pm.

As The Hypnogogue’s title track played over the house PA, the crowd waited in eager anticipation as the slow burning introduction, with its multiple sonic layers, continued to build momentum. At long last, the cinematic extravaganza was underway.

Steve Kilbey of The Church | Photo Credit: Michael Dinger

With selections presented from six LPs spread across their massive discography (25 studio albums in total), The Church’s dreamy psychedelia experience continued with “Myrrh” (Heyday, 1985), but not before Kilbey first greeted the more than 2,000 souls in attendance. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. We are so happy to be here tonight. What a wonderful – the word splendid comes to my mind – what a splendid, old theater. Thanks so much for coming along.”

Kilbey introduced the next song, “Metropolis” (Gold Afternoon Fix, 1990), as “the last time we ever darkened the doorstep of commercial radio, 34 years ago, you may remember this one.” The proceeding mystical journey that he and his bandmates brought all of us on was filled with indelible highlights, with too many to list in this review. However, the goosebump-inducing moment that tops that list, for me at least, would have to be The Church’s performance of “No Other You” (The Hypnogogue), a heartfelt love song showcasing Kilbey’s voice filled with a yearning for a woman who cannot be replaced.

The Church | Photo Credit: Michael Dinger

Outside of their psychedelic-tinged, instant classics appearing on 1988’s Starfish, “Under The Milky Way” and “Reptile,” the album that put Kilbey and company on my radar as a 16-year old entranced by their anthemic songs filled with melody and orchestration, it was another track from The Hypnogogue that filled the venue with an overall sense of reflection. The operatic “Flickering Lights,” which found Haug taking up the mandolin, was appropriately rendered by The Church to a backdrop of bright white flashing stage lights and multicolored strobes.

The stellar live show culminated with two tracks collected from opposite ends of their storied career – “Last Melody” (Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars, 2024) and “You Took” (The Blurred Crusade, 1982) – a trippy, cosmic jam filled with epic, swirling guitar.

Watch The Church perform two hit songs from their aforementioned fifth studio album Starfish, “Under The Milky Way” and “Reptile,” below:

Following the current run of North American tour dates which ends in Los Angeles on July 13, our favorite mates have cleared their calendar for the duration of the summer. However, if at the end of the year you find yourself in the Land Down Under, The Church have a series of six shows beginning at the Enmore Theatre in Newton on November 23, culminating at Hindley Street Music Hall in Adelaide on December 7. Dates sandwiched between include stops in St Kilda, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth.

Kristin Hersh Setlist: Eyeshine > Kay Catherine (Throwing Muses song) > Mississippi Kite > Your Ghost > City of the Dead (Throwing Muses song) > Bywater (Throwing Muses song) > Your Dirty Answer

The Afghan Whigs Setlist: Pantomima (Greg Dulli song) > Debonair > Catch a Colt > Algiers > 66 > Matamoros > What Jail Is Like > Too Tough to Die (Martina Topley‐Bird cover) > Light as a Feather > Oriole > It Kills > Demon in Profile > Going to Town > Somethin’ Hot > Summer’s Kiss

The Church Setlist: The Hypnogogue > Myrrh > Metropolis > C’est la vie > No Other You > Under the Milky Way > An Interlude > Flickering Lights > Reptile > Realm of Minor Angels > Grind > Last Melody > You Took


June 24 – Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall

June 25 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic Theatre

June 27 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi

June 28 – Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre

June 29 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest 2024

June 30 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue

July 2 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre

July 3 – Bellvue, CO @ The Mishawaka

July 5 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox

July 6 – Portland, OR @ McMenamins Crystal Ballroom

July 8 – Sacramento, CA @ The Sofia

July 9 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

July 11 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park

July 12 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues Anaheim

July 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The United Theater on Broadway




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