it's a miracle!
CHVRCHES @ Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW Australia 22/07/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.
They say love is dead forever, but I say never say die, there’s always hope of a miracle that will help you get out of that dark place and recover. Tonight, we find out just why it is that Glaswegian synth-pop sweethearts CHVRCHES think love is dead, as they take us through the wonderland that is their straight-from-the-heart new album ‘Love Is Dead’, plus old favourites in concert.
Let’s begin the deliverance of love…
The attraction in the audience is strong, as the band walk out onto the stage to flickering strobes and a wave of tantalising electronic bass, complementing the bands’ arrival like a fancy dress and an over-priced hair do. The band starts the labour of love off strongly with enticing hook-filled pop-wonder, ‘Get Out’ followed by the shooting love in ‘Gun’ and the love-struck denial of ‘Bury It’. Lead singer Lauren moves around casually in ‘Get Out’ spreading the love around to her audience (yep, it ain’t exclusive sorry), while her voice rides the feel-good bright sound with passion, before her movements become more prominent and confident in the following songs. In ‘Gun’, the musical energy shoots up with its heart-fluttering fast beat, along with exotic synth hooks and seductive vocals. The bass is a little too overpowering in this song, like one’s partner having a strong negative opinion toward your favourite band, but luckily, because the rest of the sound is without fault and the attention drawing synth hook still shines bright, you can overlook it. Now that we’ve got to know one another better and the attraction is strong and undeniable, the mood goes to a darker, wicked even, sense of candid attraction for ‘Bury It’. The loud kick-drum may be complementing to some like the intense heartbeat filled with desire for the rest of the sounds, but I personally find it a bit too attention drawing and slightly too loud, but otherwise the sound mixer is acting the part nicely tonight.
By now, it seems as though the love is far from dead, yet just starting to burst to life for the next four songs, ‘We Sink’, ‘Graffiti’, ‘Never Ending Circles’ and ‘Lies’. The vibrant young love feel of ‘We Sink’ and its wild synth riffs further deepens my attention, then is thrust into the 80’s with the retro synth-pop sounds of ‘Graffiti’ beaming with Lauren’s vocals of passion and joy, filled with raw energy throughout. The sounds feel takes a leap forward from the 80’s to the 90’s in ‘Never Ending Circles’ and ‘Lies’. Both songs display similar musical traits I feel, but are both strong and somehow unique in their own right, I mean I feel like they’re both quite similar, however my attention is still very much aligned with the performance and not what I might have to eat on the way home. The bridge section of ‘Never Ending Circles’ whisps away sounds to expose a stripped-back sense of vulnerability, where as in ‘Lies’ the bridge section is a colourful dance-provoking vibe. Ah, that’s what’s kept my mind off those chicken nuggets! Although the vibe in the bridge section of ‘Lies’ may be dance provoking yes, the crowd around me thus far have been rather relaxed and laid back, merely just cheering and yelling random nonsense out between songs.
As this love affair goes on, the band display all fifty shades of their musical diversity, with Lauren’s fellow band member Martin taking over as lead vocalist in songs like ‘God’s Plan’ with it’s pounding, dreamy disco vibe, and ‘My Enemy’ with both Martin and Lauren riding the song with their entrancing vocals, taking turns at lead like a couple in love riding a tandem bicycle. You may be thinking at this stage “but wait, the band haven’t been speaking between songs so far, and I love hearing the band talk to us, especially when they have sexy seductive Scottish accents to get lost in!”, well fear no more, because the band chat to their audience casually and playfully, adding a warming more pleasant vibe to the shows atmosphere. For the rest of the show we are graced with the ‘Miracle’ of love, with it’s achingly powerful vocals and just the right amount of bass to do justice to the song and make it true to the recorded, sound. We also see (well, not in my case) songs like ‘Without A Trace’ with its retro funk and irresistible love-like feeling that prompts the crowd to clap along in time to the beat, and finally ‘Clearest Blue’. In this song, Lauren’s playful vocals with climax in their higher notes, dances around the steady yet intricate beat and makes this song a beautiful way to kiss the show farewell.
“Wait, come back!” Yep, this magical date’s gone that well that the crowd cheer the band back on stage for a two-song encore, which the band totally didn’t plan for even though the two songs are listed on the setlist. The band cap the night off with ‘The Mother We Share’ which Lauren starts off as just a vocal solo, then stops as if that’s all we’re getting before having a laugh with the audience, teasing us, before starting the song again but in its true form, then lastly, ‘Never Say Die’. This song features a nostalgic 80’s pop vibe and dreamy vocals, but doesn’t include as much energy as I’d expect for a “grand finale”, but as the song progresses, it builds up nicely to a big thumping dramatic finish that closes the set off adequately!
Would you say that love is dead after that? Neither would I, I could definitely feel the love tonight! The band displayed a bubbly on-stage charisma which complemented the true-to-recorded sound stunningly, which won my heart and I think the rest of the audiences too! I would definitely go on a second date with these guys…. Figuratively speaking.