When the doors opened at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on Wednesday night (25th November), Emma and I were stuck in traffic. We hadn’t parked and we hadn’t had a chance to eat despite leaving just after half 4. The journey to Birmingham had been fraught and with both of us having an early start the next day, there was a lingering question: would this be worth it?
By the time we arrived home it was well past midnight. The A42 was closed, meaning a simple journey back to Nottingham ended up being diverted around past Burton and almost up to Derby. Again, the question was: was it worth it?
Chvrches, the Scottish electro-pop three piece, were playing the O2 that night.
I keep coming back to Chvrches. They are a band suitable for any mood, and indeed every mood, and don’t have a single bad song across either album. It’s been 2 years since they released their debut album, and a few months since they released their second. Both are of exceptional quality, both in the studio and live.
I mentioned in my Imagine Dragons review a couple of weeks ago that I like bands that add different elements to their songs live, mainly riffing. Chvrches don’t do that in the obvious sense of it, but in a less obvious one they do.
While the songs aren’t different, the layers are more complex. The music is heavier, the vocals more intense. They remain the same band they are in the studio, just more powerful, more chilling.
Chvrches comprise of Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry. Lauren, the vocalist, has a journalism degree (I very much approve) and is the face of the band. She has a wonderful voice, which rarely falters live. With electro music, there is always the possibility that the vocals will get lost. With Chvrches, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Mayberry owns the stage, as good as any other front, and interacts with the crowd on a regular basis. When we saw Chvrches at T, she told us not to throw piss at people, in Birmingham it was more positive – about how this gig was the penultimate one on the tour and that the songs had become very polished.
It was her who draws you in.
But that is not to say she is the only part of the band. They are a band, a fact that does seem lost on some people some times. The music doesn’t drown out the vocals, nor do they overpower it. They complement it. All three of them provide an energy that is infectious and a gig that is mesmerising. When Martin sings Under The Tide, he proves that he can also hold a stage as a front as Lauren took a backseat.
So, how do you do a second album tour? Play a bit of both albums, allow fans old and new to sample and enjoy. Chvrches did exactly that, to great effect. Both my face and throat hurt by the end of the night, for I spent the whole gig smiling and singing.
One day Chvrches will play arenas, maybe even stadiums. That’s the direction in which they are heading, and will happen sooner rather than later. But, let’s consider it doesn’t. Even if they continue playing venues such as the O2 in Birmingham, they will own every single stage they occupy and leave every fan, would be fan, and demi-fan begging for more.
Was the journey worth it?
What do you think?