wed 22/05/2024

Chvrches, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - homecoming provides only intermittent thrills | reviews, news & interviews

Chvrches, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - homecoming provides only intermittent thrills

Chvrches, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - homecoming provides only intermittent thrills

The second night of the trio's Glasgow shows relied on a bombastic sound

Lauren Mayberry was the group's centrepieceCraig McConnell - Catching Light Photography

Of all the Scottish bands to be name dropped at a Chvrches gig, the Bay City Rollers would be far down the list. Thankfully singer Lauren Mayberry was only citing the 70s group in reference to her tartan outfit, and not a surprise cover of “Shang-A-Lang”, but the Glasgow trio do share another similarity, in that they’ve proved to have considerable staying power in the pop world.

As Mayberry noted later in the set, the 10th anniversary of their debut album is approaching later this year, but this night, the second of two homecoming shows, was more focused around the present rather than a nostalgia trip. That meant the bulk of the set was drawn from their most recent record “Screen Violence”, the horror tinged offering that inspired Mayberry’s second costume of the evening, which combined a T-shirt reading Final Girl and a dollop of fake blood substantial enough to suggest she’d been at prom with Carrie.

The style even extended to John Carpenter’s eerily atmospheric Halloween theme being rolled out during the break between support act Dead Pony and Chvrches themselves taking the stage, but sadly atmosphere, of any sort, was missing from the early stages of the show itself. Whether it was the Sunday night setting or the sheer unrelenting warmth inside the Barrowland venue, there was a muted reaction to the first handful of songs.

That reaction was arguably deserved to the more generic synth pop the group play, such as “Forever”, but the more dynamic “Bury It”, all stabbing synths and virulent red light, or a skyscraper sized “How Not To Drown” were mostly greeted with occasional hands being thrown in the air and then quickly withdrawn as if spooked by the noise.

However the band soldiered on like Michael Myers when he’s pursuing poor Laurie Strode. That meant whipping up the crowd fell to Mayberry, as while baseball cap wearing multi instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty would pop forward to bob their heads around, the dynamism of the gig was firmly focused around her. She was up to the task, whether twirling from side to side like a runaway spinning top on the opening “He Said She Said”, or posing with the microphone stand above her, as if a warrior standing above a vanquished foe.

Slowly, it started to have an effect. “Science/Visions”, a deeper cut from their debut, throbbed with clubby energy, and the sharp pop of “Recover” was as sleek as ever, while the encore finally saw emotions unleased and the dance floor bouncing wildly to a one two punch of “The Mother We Share” and a gleeful “Clearest Blue” that pulsed with hedonism.

Yet that untamed spirit hadn’t been present quite enough throughout the evening. Perhaps it was the well-structured video backdrop of continual videos that felt a little too smooth, the bombastic bluntness of arena targeting efforts such as “Miracle”, or the odd run of the mill number but the set drifted too often. It was a night of intermittent thrills, rather than relentless excitement.

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