ever wondered what it’s like?
CHVRCHES @ Opera House Concert Hall, Sydney NSW Australia 07/01/2019 written by Brendan Lewis photos by Dan Boud.
Ever wondered what it’s like to be me? “The hot ‘n’ spunky music journalistic love-child of Daredevil and a rockstar with better fashion sense?” Exactly!... Well, kind-of, mainly just the Daredevil/blind part. Well, it is a brand-new year, yester-year has left without a trace, and so I’m doing something a little bit different this time. Instead of my ‘never say die’ attitude of creative pun-filled review intro’s, I’m going to just take you through what it’s like to be me, an all-but completely blind lover of music with Synesthesia at a concert, and just leave the puns behind this time, a miracle I know!..... Ok seriously, that’s all the puns you’re gonna get out of me today! So, close your eyes, or for a more exact perspective, remove all-but all of your optic nerves…. temporarily, as I, Brendan the blind guy, take you on a special musical journey here at the iconic Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall, where the Glaswegian synth-pop festival favourites CHVRCHES are back, after the huge success of their visit last July for Splendour In The Grass and the release of their chart topping album ‘Love Is Dead’.
What is Synesthesia you may be wondering? That is a very colourful answer!...
Although I may be able to see vague shapes and shades, that when I’m close enough to said shapes, allow me to make out what looks like bodies on stage, holding what looks like instruments….. You see how this can go oh-so terribly wrong for me in some instances right? Tonight, my little vision doesn’t quite stretch to the stage, due to distance, and well, a tall man in the row in front of me, and although I could ask my friend next to me what’s going on on stage, I think it’s ironically rather fitting for this special insight in a way!
The silence in the hall is broken by a mist of spacy synth and rough recorded words, as the band emerge to an outburst of cheers from the audience. The band meet the audiences beaming excitement perfectly, with the first four songs, ‘Get Out’, ‘Bury It’, ‘Gun’ and ‘We Sink’. The audience clap along excitedly to the driving rhythm of ‘Get Out’, which brings forth brightly polished vocals that resonate beautifully in the hall, and float perfectly atop rich tonal colours of bright blue and pink, swirling around the addictive melodies in the chorus, that will get stuck in my head later tonight while I’m trying to drift off to sleep. The tonal colour turns to a darker green in ‘Bury It’, with it’s wicked vibe and thumping dance beat. The perfectly balanced sounds help elevate and propel Lauren’s bubbly vocals brilliantly, as they dance and hover around the venue, drenched in strobes and neon-coloured lights. ‘Gun’ is ablaze in a kaleidoscope of red, pink and yellow tonal colour, spinning around playful melodies in an 80’s sounding love-struck vibe. Time to pause and catch their breath? Nope, straight into ‘We Sink’! A flurry of blue synth arpeggios with crisp yellow vocal serenity excelled by a smooth thumping pulse, mystify my senses. A bright-green aurora softly echoes at the songs end, before an enormous bassline drops.
Lead female vocalist Lauren and male vocalist Martin now take a breather… and further use their voices, to now have a pleasant playful chat with one another and to the audience, before the entire audience stand in awe, at the rich, fiery red and orange feel-good tones of ‘Graffiti’ and then the electric aqua tone of ‘Graves’, amidst in warm emotion-filled vocals, which still resonate and sparkle exquisitely throughout the hall atop this well-balanced sound clarity!
After another friendly chat, Martin takes over the role as leading vocalist for the darker, dark-blue seamingly minor toned urgency in ‘God’s Plan’, with appropriately mood emphasising ascending synth melodies, and then the vibrant bright-green 90’s disco energy in ‘Under The Tide’. Martin encourages any audience members who had returned to a seated position, to stand once more and dance, and with that, the bursting vocal melodies and the dance-provoking beat in ‘Under The Tide’, turns the concert hall into a freakin’ neon rave!
To my surprise, the band dish out the anthemic, infectious hit ‘Miracle’ now, rather than nearing the shows’ end which I had anticipated. What’s not a surprise, is the way the audience responds to the full-hearted vocal purity, delicate in the songs verses, pleading and powerful in its choruses, with reverb-saturated drums and soaring vocal harmonies…. The reaction from the audience is excellent in case you were wondering! What’s also not a surprise, is the next song ‘Science/Visions’ as brilliantly performed and sounding from both the band and the sound mix is, doesn’t quite meet the hyped energy levels left by ‘Miracle’ I feel, judging by lesser cheering and singing.
As if my mind wasn’t already filled with mostly bright, vibrant musical colours swirling and dancing around like a moving paint-by-numbers attempted by a blind child, there’s plenty more paint left in the tin for this blind kid-at-heart to play with! A bit of glowing red and green there, in ‘Deliverance’ with its swaying beat and anthemic melodies. A bit of bright yellow and orange there in ‘Forever’, rushing out of the band in exciteful buzzing energy, like an over-happy painter pouring out their favourite colour….. No, I wasn’t very good at painting in school. Still, the crowd soaks up Lauren’s exciteful vocals riding this bright musical rainbow perfectly! Finally after I turn a blind-eye to what I’m fairly certain is out-of-time drums until the end of the first chorus of ‘Leave A Trace’, seeing as the fresh light-green tone, and loop of positive energy between the band and the audience makes up for it, the band finish with ‘The Clearest Blue’. Ironically, I am seeing the clearest blue…. Creepy. This song presents itself as a brilliant closing song, with it’s feel-good uplifting zaz, with warm surging bright-yellow vocals gliding through a mist of sparkly blue energy!
Not the end…
After a quick break, the band come back out on stage and thank us from the bottom of their hearts, and give us two more for this evening, ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Never Say Die’. ‘The Mother We Share’ is started as a whisked back shimmering vocal solo with just piano, before the normal rendition bursts free. Both songs are abundant in vocal hooks that keep the audience on their feet singing right until the very end, and both radiate with a smooth blue musical haze. Although I would’ve expected ‘Miracle’ to be the grand finale, ‘Never Say Die’ with its never say die attitude and easy to relate to lyrics, goes down rather well!
THAT, is what it’s like being a hot ‘n’ spunky music journalistic love child of Dare…. You get the point, me, at a gig, and one as enjoyable as this at that!