Words: Euan Tait.
Last Friday, Merimbula’s finest Kim Churchill played his first Edinburgh show at The Voodoo Rooms. In the intimate setting of the venue’s chilled Speakeasy the seated audience gathered with the common purpose of witnessing South-East Australian Churchill’s multi-instrumental talents.
Support came from Lyndsay Shields, whose intricate guitar work brought about an incredibly chilled atmosphere. Her lengthy songs benefited from a real emphasis on the rhythm and her distinct voice sang stories focused on subjects from butterflies to lost loves. She even played a song named ‘Colourless’ that was written only two days before. Gigging more than ever before throughout August is paying off and her talents definitely deserve discovery. As a Popular Music student of Edinburgh Napier University, who knows where Lyndsay’s talents may take her. The prophetic final lyrics of her set – “four words, look at me now” – seemed particularly relevant to finish on.
Kim Churchill strolled onstage barefoot to begin his set and met with the quiet expectation of the audience. Before the denim shirt-clad and instrument-laden musician could begin, a man wishing Kim many happy returns sparked an impromptu crowd singalong of Happy Birthday. An overwhelmed Churchill described it as the first gig where the crowd started singing before him and repeated his pleasure at being in Scotland for this, his 24th birthday. The first song was one he had written that very morning and with kick drum and harmonica in tow it was certainly an inviting opener.
Churchill’s between-song musings provided great entertainment, with stories of isolation in Mexico on a songwriting mission when all he developed was “a good tolerance for tequila” in place of any kind of album. Tracks named ‘Tides’ and ‘Window to the Sky’ are songs to remember. Kim’s lyrics engage the audience in a mixture of his experiences. There’s even beautifully thought-provoking elements at times. The creation of rhythm is effortless to this accomplished musician, he welcomes one and all to his interesting and unfaltering sound. With a filthy, feet-stomping vibe comparable to the likes of Seasick Steve, there was plenty of audience engagement with the Speakeasy’s flooring.
An old song named ‘Smile As He Goes Home’ proved to be the standout track of the set – a self-confessed “relevant celebration” of his grandfather’s life as opposed to the funeral he attended as a 10 year old. Euphoria and sentimentality abounded in the uplifting beat. Kim Churchill came across as an incredibly grounded guy throughout the gig. Of another songwriting getaway in Montreal, his inspiration and the “stuff” he was going through taught him that “thinking about other people is good in a selfish way.” A hilarious anecdote that, had it not been for the gracious storyteller, could have come across rather differently.
Kim’s fourth album Silent/Win has been available in the UK since September 22nd and the 11 tracks do well to capture his amazing talents. Though the magic of musicians like Churchill is in seeing them perform live, you’ll no doubt leave the gigs on the rest of his UK tour wanting to take a piece of that home. Those going to see Seth Lakeman this month will have the joy of seeing Kim Churchill as support act, surely bringing more new fans into the fold. His final song, “about a man called Bob Dylan”, included fast lyrics and even faster music. The ‘one man band’ nature and sheer energy of Kim’s musical skills were a feast for the eyes and ears, the crowd’s quiet expectation was most certainly fulfilled.