There’s always something particularly pleasing about a band’s triumphant return to their home town after a long stint on the road, and tonight CHVRCHES are back in Glasgow for their second and final night at The Barrowlands.
Opening for the night’s headliners, Minneapolis rapper Lizzo isn’t perhaps the most obvious choice, but even with the crowd only partially assembled by the time she takes to the stage, her set is performed with tremendous enthusiasm.
Far from the dark synthscapes of CHVRCHES’ carefully constructed electropop, Lizzo’s performance is both anarchic and celebratory, blending elements of hip-hop with the passion and exuberance of a gospel church service.
While musically the highpoint of her set comes with the darker soul of ‘Paris’, another highlight sees her bringing an unsuspecting volunteer on stage from the audience, dressing him in a “Lizzo made me do it” t-shirt and encouraging him to twerk.
Needless to say the young man rises to the occasion admirably and, as Lizzo says appreciatively afterwards, “vibrates consistently”.
CHVRCHES are on next, opening with ‘We Sink’ and proceeding to perform a tight and extremely powerful set to a delightfully appreciative audience.
With a truly superb light-show accompanying the band’s fourteen song performance, complete with webs of interweaving lasers, strobes and pulsing multicoloured spotlights, the band create a visual spectacle that complements perfectly the energetic synthpop of songs like ‘The Mother We Share’, the last number before the encore.
Lead singer Lauren Mayberry is not perhaps as energetic a performer as her two bandmates, but she still comes across well on stage, commanding and charismatic while singing, and warmly genuine when talking to the audience between songs.
Whether reminiscing about her early days in the Glasgow music scene, describing their first meeting with Lizzo in Minnesota or enthusing about the quality of a good Glasgow curry, almost everything she says is met with delight and applause from the crowd.
Musical highlights include the hauntingly beautiful ‘Tether’ and ‘By The Throat’, the last song of the encore, but the set as a whole is over too quickly, with the band only on stage for about an hour.
Still, within that hour they deliver a well-crafted and tremendously well-received set of exhilarating and often moving material, proving themselves once again to be one of the best new artists to emerge from Scotland in recent years.
Above all else, CHVRCHES are strikingly unique, their innovation and artistic confidence as clear on stage as it is on their debut album.
Words: Malcolm Higgins
Photos: Vito Andreoni