CHVRCHES, The Twilight Sad at The Hydro, 2/4/16

Anyone presuming CHVRCHES have experienced something akin to overnight success is likely unfamiliar with the list of bands Lauren Mayberry rattles through, which the trio had a hand in during previous lives prior to CHVRCHES formation.

She talks of the significance of playing such a venue tonight, a place not many homegrown acts will ever experience, yet tonight we have not just one, but two of the finest Scottish acts around.

One of those bands reeled off by the CHVRCHES frontwoman is support act The Twilight Sad, who seem rather comfortable in what James Graham playfully refers to as “this big spaceship”.

Not so long ago them Kilsyth types considered calling it a day, but that must have seemed like a distant memory for Graham as he karts his mic stand forcefully across the stage.

Instead of bowing out of the game Graham and co are currently riding high on the back of Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave, so much so they are about to be kidnapped by The Cure to open shows both stateside and across Europe.

While the band have always enjoyed an impressive level of critical acclaim, it was perhaps felt they’d hit something of a brick wall with regards to them cold hard numbers.

Following a box office error I manage to miss out on the first song and half of a short yet crushing support set featuring pieces from all four LPs.

Introducing the unsettling moody brilliance of ‘I Became A Prostitute’ the frontman jokes he’ll be available at the merchandise stand later on before screaming “bleed you dry” into the poor unsuspecting microphone.

Intense doesn’t really do it justice as the dark aggression of ‘Nil’ impressively filters through this entire arena; as the venue fills up a euphoric sonic wall of noise envelopes a Glasgow crowd entertained with their squalling beautiful wreckage.

Deep shimmering swirls of melancholy created by Andy MacFarlane on guitar, augmented by the dark feral power of Graham and his rants on new album standout ‘It Never Was The Same’.

Appropriately The Twilight Sad wrap their set up on that old favourite ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’, where Graham is again outstretched writhing around the floor following conclusion of yet another mic stand fight.

One can only hope these boys stick around long enough for another wee shot at the Glasgow spaceship.

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With the masses having been suitably charged up courtesy of the overwhelming racket provided in the support slot it is time to dial it down a tad as the more pop oriented CHVRCHES take centre stage.

Which is not to say we aren’t on a similarly breathless journey as previously, just watching Mayberry whizz around this large stage cascading from monitor to monitor requires a level of stamina.

Whereas The Twilight Sad excel within a dark untamed bombast of noise CHVRCHES possess more of a synth pop sensibility which translates fantastically well in this vast arena.

It does however take a couple of numbers to properly get the audience rocking, with it all a bit big arena sterile until ‘Keep You On My Side’ kicks in.

Hooks and stripped synths take over proceedings while soothing sugary sweet chirps executed by Mayberry bounce over each corner of the venue.

‘Tether’ racks things up a notch, its outro turning The Hydro into the biggest and best disco in town this Saturday night; bouncing from side to side a Glasgow crowd lap up the fizzing high octane electro on show.

Iain Cook and Martin Doherty set up the beaming melodies with aplomb, but it is Mayberry’s irresistible charm and charisma that melds the show together, whether its chatting about House Of Cards or battering synthdrums she displays an infectious enthusiasm, which can be difficult to resist.

The restless spirit of Mayberry takes a backseat briefly as Doherty steps up for a couple of numbers with the “taps aff” anthem ‘Under The Tide’ that sees Doherty manically prowl the stage as those in attendance raise their hands and just about hit the roof.

Suitably re-energised Mayberry returns as the focal point with an astonishing vocal delivery on the masterful combo of ‘Recover’ and ‘Leave A Trace’, in between times there is even confessions relating to a certain Ms. Swift.

Breathy soaring ethereal vocals again “I know I need relief” ring around this big bowl as the LED rig goes into overdrive; Doherty is back to his head banging on the spot while Mayberry sprawls and jumps as if her life depended on it.

‘Afterglow’ provides a magical interlude prior to regular set closer ‘The Mother We Share’, with most of the crowd engaging in some pre performance chorus singing of the single along with Mayberry, which no doubt sent the trio off stage beaming with pride.

Needless to say, these guys are going from strength to strength and a packed Hydro are left wanting more, which suggests this may not be the last time CHVRCHES grace this place.

More Photos

Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Tim Gray

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