This is the second time on four days I’ve had the pleasure of seeing CHVRCHES live.
Tonight it’s Dundee’s Fat Sam’s, the previous Saturday it was the O2 Academy in Newcastle.
First observation is the venue is much smaller; the stage set up is pretty compact, with a subset of lights compared to the previous show – as I am also shooting photos this does present a wee challenge.
A narrow stage and even narrower photo pit make for great up the nose shots, that no one, not even the most ardent CHVRCHES fans really want to see; challenge accepted, judge for yourself how I did through the link at the bottom of the review.
Anyway this is about one of Scotland’s biggest musical exports in years, for anyone reading that has had their head in a bucket for the last while, CHVRCHES are Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry a three-piece electro-pop band from Glasgow formed in 2011.
They released their second album, Every Open Eye, in September, a follow up their critically acclaimed debut, is no mean feat but they nailed it.
The setlist for this sold out show is a mix up of both albums; in Newcastle Mayberry announced they have more than 10 songs this time so folk will have to stay a bit longer, but this is the first time they have played Dundee, quite amazing when you look at how many shows they play.
Anyone that has seen a CHVRCHES show will know that Mayberry is not short of a story or two, tonight is no exception, as she tells how Cook and Doherty enjoyed a curry, a couple of hours before the previous night’s show in Aberdeen, before we’re given a very witty and adequately detailed picture of the impact on this had on the tour bus post gig.
The band finish up the main part of their set with ‘Clearest Blue’, before re-emerging to a huge applause that eventually quietens down when the carpet of keys that ‘Afterglow’ floats upon fills auditorium.
For me this is the highlight of the night, Mayberry’s delivers the moving lyrics perfectly, in a truly spine tingling and special three minutes.
She then introduces the last song of the night and the place goes ballistic when the first notes for ‘The Mother We Share’ ring out and everyone sings along to the point that I can’t hear the vocals above the masses around me.
There’s something beautiful about CHVRCHES music and I can’t quite put my finger on it; the lyrics are accomplished yet somehow vulnerable and they are carried with strong rhythms and catchy melodies that you can easily lose myself in.
It’s a real treat to see how much the band is absorbed in each song, these guys are into what they do and that comes across.
CHVRCHES are not just up there banging out the same tunes every night they are delivering their art to your ears, carefully crafted and served with an embracing passion.
The band are mid flight now on a world tour that has seen them in America, Europe, now the UK, then back to America before and after Christmas then on to Asia, Australia before heading back to Germany in April.
They will play their biggest show to date in Glasgow next year – at The Hydro on April 2nd, it could open a few eyes.
Words/Photos: Tim J. Gray