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Chvrches - Barrowland, Glasgow - November 4 2014 (Live Review)

Monday, 17 November 2014 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

We do love a good moan in Scotland and our music often reflects that. Hell, we embrace it. Critics here described the new album from gloom-rockers the Twilight Sad, for example, as a “miserable success”. So, with that acknowledged, here is a toast to the fact that Scotland has also produced a band as popular, positive and life-affirming as Chvrches.

With the exception of your Biffy Clyros, it is pretty much unheard of for a Scottish band to headline and sell out the Barrowlands two nights in a row. That Chvrches managed to do it after only releasing one album is even more impressive.

Over a year since the arrival of their debut, 'The Bones of What You Believe', the trio have developed from a cursory synthwave experiment into an all-consuming experience.

Previously restrained, vocalist Lauren Mayberry is now confident and assured, bantering with the crowd and swinging her microphone between songs. These days, they also complement their punchy, synth-driven sound with a light show that adds dramatic effect to the explosive choruses and crescendos.

Though the vast majority of the songs are lifted from ‘The Bones...’, the pacing of their set highlights the diversity of their palette. Gun remains a perfect synth-pop track, with its syncopated melody and brilliant rhythmic changes, but slow-burners like Science/Visions and Tether resonate just as loudly with the Glasgow crowd.

Even perceived weaker spots, such as Under the Tide, are transformed into triumphant examples of crowd participation in a live setting. Though their sound is now more expansive than ever before, Martin Doherty still rabidly jumps up and down as if they were playing a pop-punk set, reinforcing the transfer of energy between band and audience.

These are nice touches, reflecting the enthusiasm that surrounds the night. Much like Franz Ferdinand last decade, Chvrches' position in the mainstream is a euphoric contrast to their more cynical Scottish peers. Even on a cold, wet post-referendum Glasgow night, this crowd leaves with with a sense of optimism. Assuming album two is on the way, that's a good omen.

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