Kim Churchill Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, April 15

Kim Churchill Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, April 15
Photo: Kim Jay
Kim Churchill's set was marked by his precision playing, his indefatigable stage presence and his near-overwhelming musical passion. From the moment he took the stage in front of a loud, talkative crowd, Churchill was on his game with the long-winding "Smile As She Goes Home." The song shut the audience up and had more than a few people swaying.

Churchill rarely let up with his rustic grooves, keeping the place as close to dance-party mode as could be expected on a rainy Thursday. Songs from his new record, Silence/Win, like "Canpy," the hard blues track that featured some sweet chime work and the hippy-disco of "Fear the Fire," are already showstoppers not to be forgotten.

Cover songs can be an elusive mistress but both his tried-and-true cover of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a song that Churchill jokingly commented made up the second half of the first song he ever wrote, and a pepped-up version of the Stealer's Wheel classic Dylan-clone "Stuck In The Middle With You," which he apparently tried out live for the first time, were grand successes. Every song was delivered with a sort of gentle force, with even the slower, guitar-picking numbers running a deep, strong groove.

Kim Churchill, a man possessing a mop of blonde hair so glorious as to not even appear real, is the head of the second wave of the Australian groove-rock movement that was so strong in the early 2000s with acts like John Butler Trio and Xavier Rudd — his guitar style equally reminiscent of both, but all his own — and he carries that torch with aplomb. But make no mistake, this guy is no clone.

Churchill is a beast unto himself, a one-man army of positive vibration. Near the end of his set, he noted to the near-capacity crowd that the last time he played Lucky Bar there were about 25 people there. If he keeps up like this, he's only going to be playing bigger venues everywhere he goes.