Image courtesy of JayJay Robertson
Generally speaking the journey to headlining two sold out home town shows at a 1300 strong venue is fraught with sweaty basement gigs, half filled bar venues, and battling against the noise of a drunken crowd. However CHVRCHES are not a band who should be tarred with generalities.
In the space of a little over 18 months, the trio have exploded in a way that whilst bloggers and muso maybe predicted, the bands humble nature couldn't, or wouldn't, have imagined themselves. During that time, they have released a couple of singles, an EP, bagged fifth place on the BBC's Sound of 2013 and put out their eagerly anticipated album The Bones Of What You Believe. Yet Glasgow shows have been few and far between. So needless to there was a buzz in the air amongst the throngs packed into Sauchiehall street venue.
London duo Thumpers were first on stage, entertaining the early attendees with their brand of alt-pop which has seen them signed to the Sub Pop label. Having chosen a pre-gig pint over getting into the venue early, I only caught the tail end of their set, but there was enough of interest in those few songs to suggest they may be a name to keep an eye out for. No matter how good touring buddies Thumpers were though, tonight remains all about one band. CHVRCHES.
Opener 'We Sink' showcases the catchy synth hooks that have enabled their meteoric rise. Former The Twilight Sad touring Martin Doherty continues to blare out drum loops with a passionate and energetic display behind the keys as recent single 'Gun' sends the crowd into a rapturous fever.
It should be noted of course, that all three members of CHVRCHES have served their time in the dingy basement gigs mentioned at the start of this review. Mayberry with previous bands Blue Sky Archives and Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Cook with Aerogramme and other band The Unwinding Hours, and Doherty with The Twilight Sad. They are no strangers to putting on a live show, and it's clear that back in from of a Scottish audience they can relax a little and do what comes naturally. The interaction between band and crowd is always that bit easier when they can understand the Scottish tone. As Lauren chats in between tracks we are reliably informed she's never been sick on the ABC dance floor, and she lets slip a little exposé concerning an ex-boyfriend, nightclub bathrooms and wandering hands.
There's a couple of moments where it's perhaps admissible the band let the occasion get to them, a few vocals not quite hit and some shaky interludes between songs, however this is a minor quibble in an otherwise amazing gig.
'Lies' is the track the started the CHVRCHES ball rolling, and as the jagged synth beats of the track blare out and we watch Mayberry's silhouette punching the air amidst a smog of smoke, it's a chance to just fathom how far this band have come.
Mayberry seems cool and collected in her delivery, but when Doherty takes over vocal duties for the brilliant 'Science/Visions' he bounds across stage, exuding enough joy and passion to whip the crowd up another notch. The track, which is one of the best from the album, is recreated on stage perfectly, and one of many highlights of the set.
It was always going to be the behemoth 'The Mother We Share', with its '80's infused synths and rhythm, that allowed the band to leave the stage triumphantly before returning for a much welcomed encore. A fantastic Whitney Houston cover, 'It's Not Right But It's OK', and a uplifting final track 'By The Throat' complete the evening. Bring on the Barrowlands in March!