Music Reviews

“They’ve Still Got It”- Live Review: Chvrches @ Rock City

Izzy Morris

After hitting the road with none other than musical giants Coldplay, CHVRCHES decided to take a bonus trip to Nottingham on a short run of gigs. And oh, Impact‘s Izzy Morris is glad they did…

Glaswegian synth-pop trio CHVRCHES have truly cemented themselves as a class act – easily generating a whirlwind of excitement within the city, when they announced their Rock City headline show. The gig was an unsurprising sell-out, coming slightly removed from any major project releases, other than a recent single Over, which has gone down a treat with fans, hungry for a major CHVRCHES return.

Before Lauren, Martin and Iain took to the stage however, the audience were treated to a stellar performance from Dead Pony, a fellow Scottish post-punk band who have been making waves across the scene, with releases like Bullet Farm and 23, Never Me, generating a whole host of excitement, alongside a whole host of new fans.

The room was definitely converted into fans

Interestingly enough, when the band asked the room how many of them had seen them play before, only one or two hands were raised. However, by the end of their set, the rest of the room was definitely converted into fans, with plenty of cheering and applause directed at the band. With high-energy, electric performance quality, and an incredible selection of tracks already released, these guys are ones to watch. If they’re not already on your radar, they really ought to be. They’re also returning to Nottingham in September at Rough Trade, so make sure to catch them.

Those grungy Dead Pony shockwaves were then electrified even further, as CHVRCHES took to the stage, breaking out into He Said She Said’s iconic cascading synths from their most recent album, ‘Screen Violence’. The room erupted into cheering and applause as they made their entry on stage, truly giving them a heroes’ welcome to Rock City. The first three tracks of their set spanned three different albums, with their opening track being followed by Forever from ‘Love is Dead’ and Leave a Trace from ‘Every Open Eye’. From the offset, we were reminded just how consistently CHVRCHES have delivered with their insanely tight production, their vibrant synths, and their infectious melodies.

Mind-blowingly gorgeous vocals, and energetic twirling

One of my personal favourite tracks, not only in general, but also in terms of their performance was Bury It, which got the crowd going, and allowed front-woman Lauren Mayberry to show off some ridiculous vocal skills. Lauren admitted during the evening that she hadn’t been very well recently, but you’d have never known it. She burst into life on the stage, with mind-blowingly gorgeous vocals, and energetic twirling and dancing all over the stage. I cannot get over how incredible her voice is, and I really don’t think I could find a fault in it.

There’s a danger with these electropop bands with high production that the vocals can get lost, even when that’s not the case in a mixed studio version. But there’s no place for that concern with CHVRCHES, with Lauren’s unique and dazzling tone very much remaining front and centre – her voice certainly knows ‘How Not To Drown’.

A friendly and warm environment

The rumbling bass and the plethora of electronic synth sounds reverberated around the room, leaving my ears positively tingling by the end of the set, and my feet were suitably worn out after dancing through the evening. It was a full-on experience, but one that was incredibly inviting, with regular interludes from Lauren and the band joking around about Biffy Clyro tracks, and offering modest gratitude for the support from their audience. They fostered such a friendly and warm environment for the night, in a similar way to their accessible yet kaleidoscopically interesting tracks. It only makes sense that these people are the brains behind the pure fun that their music radiates musically.

We continued to dance through their discography, covering a great deal of ground, moving through every single project and back again, without the set ever feeling clunky or out of place. Regardless of whether each track was a radio sensation or not, fans continued to knowingly feedback to the band in movement, song and excitement.

Some crowd participation

Lauren disappeared towards the end of the set to swap out her quintessentially Scottish tartan number for a ‘Final Girl’ t-shirt to perform the song with the same title. We also got to enjoy some crowd participation during Never Say Die – a fan favourite CHVRCHES track, to round out the main set before they returned for a three-song encore. Covered in fake blood, the front woman returned alongside her band mates to deliver an extra dose of electrifying synths and rumbling bass. Their final two tracks, The Mother We Share and Clearest Blue, two signature CHVRCHES tracks, got everyone in the room dancing along with them, with a sea of arms in the air, giving back to the band.

Nottingham was entirely and completely captured by their synth-pop magic. CHVRCHES have been around for a while now, but if nothing else, they managed to prove one thing at Rock City.

They’ve still got it.

Izzy Morris

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

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