Alvvays at ABC, 18/2/18

It’s the second UK date of Alvvays’ European Spring and Summer tour at Glasgow’s sold out show tonight and the band’s first return to Glasgow soil since 2017’s Antisocialites LP was released to rave reviews.

Alvvays arrive on stage to a pulsating electronic synth-pop track, and the band’s name displayed on a floor to ceiling graphic backdrop.


Lead vocalist Molly Rankin steps up to the mic and loudly declares her excitement at being back in Scotland.

The band have something of an affinity for the place, if drawing on a number of their top musical influences which include; Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Camera Obscura to name a few.

Not to mention that Rankin herself comes from a family of Celtic musicians, Canadian folkies, The Rankin Family; Celtic Connections may be over for this year, but the link here is definitely strong.

Aside from an early appearance of stand out single from 2014’s debut Alvvays ‘Adult Diversion’, the set tonight is – unsurprisingly- laden with songs from their latest release.

In mid-tempo ‘In Undertow’ what is initially visible is the synergy between the band on stage, particularly between Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, as the pair exchange smiling glances with each other intermittently throughout the song.

Next up is pop stomper ‘Plimsole Punk’ which sounds like the Ramones on a summer vacation, and really lifts the energy of the whole venue, getting the fans at the front bouncing in synchronicity.

Catchy vibes aside, technically, the drumming on this one is incredibly tight, providing a structural element to a song which thrashes around boundlessly.

Having said that, despite the energy coming through the music, the performance style of the band throughout tonight’s show is surprisingly timid.

‘Lollipop (ode to Jim)’ sounds as sugary sweet as the titles suggests and really alludes to the melodic guitar style of The Jesus and Mary Chain, played live there’s also an air of The Cure about it.

The set slows down from this energetic spin as Rankin asks “do you want to forget about life with me tonight?”

The graphic backdrop is showing us white noise, and this paired with a marching drum beat and some slightly sinister synth playing hypnotizes the audience into a kind of mass trance, and I find myself swaying along.

The opening bars of ‘Marry Me Archie’ are a nostalgic jolt back to the present for the long-time fans.

The crowd sings in unison to every word of this Camera Obscura-inspired teenage plea.

Much to the crowd’s delight, the band come back for an encore with ‘Party Police’ a stomping sing-along which bears probably the best reminder of the power of strong melodies in Alvvays’ catalogue of music.

The catchy indie-driven pop sensibilities of Alvvays’ music is at its best in a live setting with a willing crowd, and make for a really fun gig, this is why they are such a great band to see live and why I’m excited to see where they’re heading to next.

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Words: Amanda Johnston
Photos: Thomas Ritchie


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