Churchill "secret show" at Local 46, 11/27/12 (photos, review) - Reverb

Churchill “secret show” at Local 46, 11/27/12 (photos, review)

The loyal Denver audience that has followed local act Churchill over the last few years has always known that the band was destined for bigger stages than the Hi-Dive.

And thanks to the unstoppable single “Change,” the band is on fire – on terrestrial radio, on multiple satellite stations, on the road – and its new major label home A&M Octone couldn’t be happier.

As part of its prep work for a 13-date tour that starts Sunday in Minneapolis, Churchill played a “secret” show on Tuesday night at the north Denver bar Local 46. It was an amiable, locals-only crowd that packed the room for the lengthy set that had the band playing loose and friendly with its fans.

(Note: Churchill will play another free “secret” show tonight – this one all ages. Read on for the details.)

Frontman Tim Bruns is likable behind the mic, but he’s also quick to share it with Bethany Kelly – who sings the group’s breakout single “Change.” Sure enough, halfway through the intimate show, some dude in the audience started asking (loudly) for “Change.” Bruns told him they would get there – “in about two hours.” It didn’t take that long, but when it came, the song lit up the room.

And that’s nothing unusual for Churchill. They’re known for their rock-solid pop songs – though sadly the excellent “Miles” didn’t make the setlist on Tuesday. And they’re loved for their talents: Both Bruns and Kelly have voices that will light up a room, and they seem more comfortable on a stage than ever before.

But what came out of Tuesday’s show is the band’s nailed-down balance. The Churchill dynamic works because of the careful harmonies between the male and female vocals, the deliberate instrumentation that includes Michael Morter’s instinctive mandolin melodies, the pocketed rhythm section that gets the heads nodding and the on-stage interpersonal relationships that truly seem to be having a good time – with themselves, with the crowd, with the fans.

And with melodies that stick and an approach like that, the band’s recent successes make perfect sense.

Churchill’s second secret show is tonight, Wednesday Nov. 28, at the Rooster and Moon, 955 Bannock St. The show is free and all ages.

If you can’t make it tonight, the band will open for fun. and Of Monsters and Men at the 1stBank Center on Dec. 13 – a show that’s already sold out. If neither of those work, they’ll headline the Ogden Theatre on Feb. 9.

Follow our news and updates on Twitter and our relationship status on Facebook. Or send us a telegram.

Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and editor at The Denver Post.

Michael McGrath is a Denver area photographer. His work is available at Twist and Shout Records. Visit his website.