House Of Vans (25/5/18)
Patchy sound quality and technical difficulties befall an otherwise career encapsulating celebration for new and old CHVRCHES fans alike.
“There are gremlins in the machine!” It was somewhat of a false start for synth-pop band CHVRCHES as they prepared to celebrate the release of new album ‘Love Is Dead’ deep in the Waterloo tunnels that the House Of Vans calls their home. ‘Get Out’, the lead single and set starter felt muffled as if it’s quick firing beats had a silencer attached, those same sound issues floated into following track ‘Bury It’ before the relief of a much needed early pause to fix the technical issues.
Lauren’s undeniable charm and light-hearted humour masks the significant pause before the set can truly begin properly with first album single, the fan favourite ‘Gun’. If it somehow wasn’t apparent already, it certainly is during the track that the crowd is comprised completely of devout fans making for an electric atmosphere that provides a much-needed bolt of energy to steady the ship.
New songs are few and far between ‘Graffiti’ is an early victim of technical issues and never feels like it leaves second gear despite being an early standout on the studio release. Synth player Martin Doherty gets lead vocal duties for fellow new track ‘Gods Plan’ but it pales in comparison to ‘Under The Tide’ with synths burying his patchy vocal performance. The latter track, however, is a much better showcase for why he should be allowed to take the microphone.
‘Miracle’ begins a second-half resurgence for the group, the latest single is a strong turnaround with synths and vocals finally in balance for the thunderous track and it’s heart pounding chorus which may finally elevate the group to arena status. A selection of older material ‘Never Ending Circles’, ‘Tether’ and ‘Leave A Trace’ keep the band on an upward surge and ‘Forever’ marks itself as a new live staple as it fits effortlessly amongst the stalwarts of their set.
Certainly a tale of two halves but it’s the finale that firmly leaves a lasting impression in my mind. A near perfect transition between albums that showcases that small spark hidden throughout each of their records that CHVRCHES can call upon to truly ignite a show and create a real ‘live moment’.
Starting with ‘Love Is Dead’ single main set closer ‘Never Say Die’; the track finds itself as the new records first true anthem. Pounding fists and bodies fill the air as members of crowd either jump on friends shoulders or bang their heads in unison to the beat of impressive new live drummer Johnny Scott. The high energy is swiftly followed by the bands iconic singalong moment of ‘Mother We Share’ before the explosive grand finale of ‘Clearest Blue’ whose drop you never want to end.
Despite a spectacular finish, the technical issues and setbacks still linger over the night. In all fairness, this is the first headline show in a significant time period for the band. in time these glitches will be ironed out, the new album will have time to blend into the setlist and CHVRCHES will be back to their triumphant best, for now, however, it’s a live setup with just as many high points as there were lows.