Chvrches blew up onto the dance/electronic/synth-pop scene in 2012 with the track “Lies” which went onto feature in their debut album, the Bones of What You Believe.
Even if you’ve never heard of the band, chances are you’ve heard their music. Fronted by lead singer Lauren Mayberry, with Martin Dougherty on synthesizers and leading vocals and Ian Cook on guitar and base, this synth-pop band has been a favourite of mine for a while.
Now touring with their third album, Love is Dead, released in May 2018, I managed to get a ticket for their 02 Victoria Warehouse gig, the second of two nights in Manchester. Victoria Warehouse is a disused warehouse near Old Trafford that was renovated in 2009. I’d been there once before for a Rum Festival and thought it would make the perfect music venue. The band played in the main auditorium space, a perfect setting for Mayberry’s ethereal voice.
The support act, Let’s Eat Grandma, left a lot to be desired, despite being tipped for great things by cooler people than me. I found them slightly amateurish. At one point they did a school-girl clapping routine that left me slightly puzzled, as did their rolling around on the floor. Sorry ladies, not to my taste.
The band opened with “Graffiti” the first track on the Love is Dead album, and went onto perform a mixture of tracks both from their most recent album and from the Bones of What You Believe. It was the songs from that album which were received with the loudest reception, a testament perhaps to its enduring strength and appeal. For me, their third album lacked some of the stand out tracks of the first, and this came across in the gig, with a reliance on older tracks to really get the crowd going.
Early on in the set, a technical hitch meant that Mayberry didn’t make it to the mike for the start of the next song and had to apologise to the crowd whilst she adjusted the sound. However, her chat with the crowd as she was untangling herself simply made her more personable and I felt she handled it well, referring to the likes of Maria Carey’s technical glitch at the Times Square New Years Eve performance in 2017 to show it happens even to the best and most established of acts.
Mayberry’s voice was able to carry throughout the building and yet despite this, during the track, “Miracle”, Mayberry’s vocals seemed to be drowned out by the base.
Half-way through the set, Martin Doherty took over vocals, for tracks
Songs like Under the Tide and God’s Plan and his charismatic presence lit up the stage, bringing real energy and variety. Though he hardly needed help lighting up the stage, with the amazing lighting production that flooded the stage. It was really quite mesmerising to watch.
The auditorium was also noticeably filled with couples, no doubt out celebrating a late Valentines day. This gave the place a much more romantic, laid-back feel, despite the Love is Dead title of the tour. I was also delighted to see a real mix of age-ranges attending from students to older couples. It certainly made me feel less like the uncool chick and the cool kids party.
There’s still a chance to catch the band touring. They’ll be playing in Newcastle tomorrow at the 02 Academy, then at Ulster Hall, Belfast on the 19th February and the Olympia, Dublin on the 21st and 22nd
A full list of future tour dates can be found here: https://chvrch.es/