Saturday, 15 November 2014

Gig Review - CHVRCHES - Barrowlands, 4th November 2014

Since the release of The Bones Of What You Believe,  in September 2013, CHRVCHES have been on a whirlwind and non-stop journey, touring across the world, appearing on radio and TV everywhere and will have racked up an incredible 134 gigs before 2014 is out.  It's perhaps no surprise then that Iain Cook, Martin Doherty, and Lauren Mayberry are delighted to be here, their home city of Glasgow, performing in a venue that holds massive significance to Glaswegian music fans.

Tonight is the second night in the Barrowlands as part of their UK tour, and the trio's third time in the legendary ballroom this year, having stopped off in March during their last UK tour.  Since then the band have stayed firmly in the public's consciousness with contributions to a re-scored Drive  soundtrack and the new Hunger Games  soundtrack.

Opening for CHRVCHES tonight is Minneapolis alt-rapper Lizzo, who cuts a confident figure onstage armed with good ol' US sass and party vibes.  Hip-hop, soul, R'n'B and pop are all mixed in the pot to produce a set which seems to resonate and go down well with the Glasgow crowd.  The general rule of thumb for out of town support acts is if you can keep the crowd away from the bar to watch your set, then job done.  Lizzo more than fills out the Barrowlands ballroom floor, even bringing one fan on stage for some twerking.

The cutting intro of We Sink  announces CHRVCHES arrival as a rapturous crowd explode partly drowning out Mayberry's opening vocals.  With singles Lies  and Gun  also aired in the opening batch of songs, CHVRCHES waste no time in setting out their stall.

The power and intensity of Cook and Doherty's synths are matched only by the euphoria inducing light show.  With military precision multi-coloured lazers cut across the stage and the band, perfectly complimenting the music.  Watching Mayberry and her band mates cutting shapes through the beams as they perform, it's like watching the band navigate the motion detectors as they attempt to rob a bank.

Last time I saw CHVRCHES play in Glasgow (10th October 2013, O2 ABC) there were small tell tale signs that the band hadn't quite got to grips with their meteoric rise.  A year on and any such suggestions can be quashed as Mayberry chats to the eager hometown audience with ease, almost forgetting at one point they are hear to play songs.  "Okay we should play some songs" she remembers following a long 'in-between' chat about McCormicks Music, the merits of a good curry, and Tuesday night student drinking. 

The band's set comprises of 14 tracks, drawn from their debut album and peppered with a few new ones, including Dead Air.  Highlights include Science/Visions,  which combines high tempo synths with Tron-like lazers to create a out of this world effect, and Under The Tide,  where Doherty gets his chance to go tonto on vocals. Saving the best till last, The Mother We Share  brings the curtain down on another fantastic show from CHVRCHES, before a two track encore ends the show officially with the tender and haunting By The Throat

A year on from the debut album release, and tracks from The Bones Of What You Believe  still sound fresh, inspired and vibrant.  CHVRCHES next trick will be to follow that album, but for now, it's clear they've made a lasting impact, and have earned their Barrowlands stripes.

- Neil Wilson

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