Since we last covered CHVRCHES at one of their two ABC gigs late last year they have featured on pretty much every end of year list for 2013, but aside that and a few covers the hype has leveled out and by March as The Bones Of What You Believe has been pretty much accepted everywhere as a standout debut.
This tour is likely to be the last before these guys hit the studio to produce a potentially tricky follow up, but tonight is about celebrating, tonight is a milestone for three Glasgow musicians, tonight they’re headlining The Barrowlands, surely the pinnacle of honours for any Scottish musician.
“This city, this room really means a lot,” Martin Doherty announces as he takes centre stage late in the set for twinkling anthem ‘Under The Tide’, and it would appear that never a more modest and genuine statement had been made in these walls; this is really it.
Before Glasgow’s hottest property take to the stage there’s a couple of supports to take in, however both suffer terribly from the idle chatter of the growing a Barras crowd.
Jon Cooper’s alt electronic project Turtle are up first, and tonight performing as a duo they layer beautiful atmospheric sounds and incisive vocals to a sadly largely uninterested crowd, still they’ll win some plaudits tonight and we’ll be sure to check them out in a smaller venue in the near future.
Following them is SOAK, an incredibly young looking Irish kid with an acoustic guitar, who plays to a much larger crowd but pretty much suffers the same fate.
Still, teenage Bridie Monds-Watson will gain more than she loses from playing this stage on surely the biggest event going on in a Glasgow Saturday where you’re ruined for options.
Tonight it’s hard to pick up much of her sound as it’s drowned in ignorant chit-chat; either way she’s tipped for bit things but maybe a Saturday night before a CHVRCHES hometown performance isn’t the best introduction for anyone.
I’ve not listened to any of The Bones of What You Believe this year, and tonight I start to feel that this was somewhat of a good call, as each track sounds as fresh as the last and the fact the lyrics are still stuck in my head is testament to the infectious record, which is played in full tonight.
They start the set with erratically sweet ‘We Sink’ as Doherty and Iain Cook bob away behind desks and Lauren Mayberry takes centre stage with that addictive vocal delivery in front of impressive lighting in the shape of the album artwork, which does at points pull away making it appear that Mayberry’s stood in front of giant glowing Mitre football logo.
Tonight every track gushes with a sparkling glory and the band seem more comfortable in their skins than their previous Glasgow dates, persistent touring and a bit of time to adjust to the limelight seem to have had massive effect on this trio’s presence.
Mayberry’s once touching on awkward stage banter has been enhanced thoroughly as she talks with a comfort of ending up in the first aid bit at her first ever Barrowlands gig and giving a shout of for International Women’s Day, bolstering her feminist leanings but her girl led TYCI doesn’t get a shout out, possibly as she can’t be seen to tell people to go to their smashing looking gig down at Stereo when they’re already watching her perform just a wee jaunt east.
It’s hard to pick out a standout from the set but the back-to-back effort of Doherty fronted ‘Under The Tide’ and the album’s shimmering gem and Rave Child track of 2013 ‘The Mother We Share’ make a superb pre encore before the atmospherics of ‘You Caught The Light’ and the twinkling synths of ‘By The Throat’ send us off into the carnage of a Glasgow Saturday night in the knowledge that CHVRCHES are Scotland’s number one ticket, not this Biffy, Calvin, Paolo festival headlining nonsense.
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Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Stewart Fullerton