Somehow I’ve managed to miss CHVRCHES every time they’ve come out to Australia, and as they tour with Laneway Festival, I finally found out what I’ve been missing out on. Selling out two weekday shows at The Forum in Melbourne is no mean feat, and if anyone were to deservingly do so, the Scottish trio are it.
Arriving to a reasonably full room packed in for opener East India Youth, early comers were not to be disappointed. The solo artist was completely captivating, drawing the room into his mesmerising beats and almost surprisingly perfect vocals. Without a shadow of a doubt, East India Youth proved the perfect support.
Snapping out of the almost trance that was the opening set, it became clear that the large Tuesday night crowd was well and truly ready to go for the headliners’ set. CHVRCHES appeared on stage amongst the beginnings of a phenomenal light show and immediately commanded the room. Singer Lauren Mayberry darted around the stage with a great energy, and never wavered in her vocal.
The setlist largely traded off tracks from each of their records- 2013’s The Bones Of What You Believe and 2015’s Every Open Eye– and displayed the more triumphant feel of the more recent release. The crowd was constantly pulsating throughout, not just amidst better known singles like “Recover” and “Leave A Trace”, but to the set as a whole.
Mayberry was rather impressive in her complete and utter control of the room rocking some super dance moves (how she didn’t get dizzy at sometimes, I don’t know) and a confidence that has no doubt developed over years of intense touring. It wasn’t just her, however, that looks totally comfortable at centre stage. Usually hiding behind an intricate sampler set up, Martin Doherty took charge for “Under The Tide” and proved depth in both his performance skills and the band as a whole. Let’s not forget Iain Cook, either, breaking out of his raised setup for some killer guitar lines.
Only improving the night was the banter between bandmates, joking that there are things they can only say to each other on stage (Mayberry’s sweaty forehead being one…) and Curb Your Enthusiasm references.
Very little could detract from the evening, but it’s a sobering reality when poor crowd attitudes sour a phenomenal performance. I was unfortunate enough to be situated near a group who thought that yelling mysoginistic comments at the brilliantly talented Mayberry was a good idea. Really disappointing to experience, especially considering the musician’s well-publicised battles against such behaviour.
While that somewhat marred the evening, CHVRCHES’ live show is second-to-none and one could only imagine the impact of them closing an outdoor festival stage.