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Hot on the heels of the release of their one and only LP, The Bones Of What You BelieveChvrches have had a meteoric rise in popularity. The Glaswegian (my first and possibly last time using that word) trio, lead singer Lauren Mayberry and bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, have managed to pen some of the smartest and best pop songs we’ve heard in a while. They have even formed their own label, Goodbye Records, just to add to their recent triumphs.
Chvrches have been playing to packed houses since their first single releases, and the Terminal 5 show was the first of three sold-out shows. As their popularity has risen, so has their stage presence and showmanship. Early shows were described by others as somewhat static. Not so on Friday!
Opening big with We Sink‚ Chvrches’ energy never waned. Mayberry has broken away from her attachment to the microphone, and her beautiful voice slices through the bass-heavy beat creating a full sonic palate. Opening with several hits can be risky, but Chvrches pulled it off well, shining new light on what were probably the more overlooked tracks on the album. A lighting setup that emphasized neon geometry echoed their album’s cover art. The hard synth tones melded beautifully with the other-worldly voice of Mayberry, and that too was captured in the stage design.
Martin Doherty stepped out from behind his keyboards (trading places with Mayberry) to perform Under The Tide. This proved to be a highlight both musically and as a chance to see Doherty rock some serious dance moves. It too brought more attention to a track that might have been overlooked on a first listen to the album.
Both a criticism and potential compliment is the excellent recreation of the album’s sound. Synths don’t lend themselves to the same improvisation as guitar-based bands, but the potential is there. Making their live show sound even more live may be something to aim for during the band’s the next tour.
Overall, the one-hour set flew by. It’s understandable that a band with only one album plays a short set; and maybe it’s best to “leave ’em wanting more.” Well, Chvrches certainly did!
Words and photos by Robert Altman.