There is always a sense of anticipation before watching any of the acts being hyped for a big year. This was certainly the case before Scottish trio Chvrches took to the stage at Bristol’s favourite sea ship venue Thekla. After coming fifth in BBC Sound Of 2013, Chvrches and their addictive synth-pop have been making a lot of headway and their live show does nothing but confirm that big things await Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty.
Coming onstage to a rapturous applause, the Glasgow-based band kicked proceedings off with Lies, one of the songs that first brought them to the attention of the internet and made music critics take notice. The throbbing synths and pulsating beat made it a perfect opening song, although it did take a couple of attempts to get right after Cook was slightly out on his timing. “I can sell you lies/ you can’t get enough/ make a true believer of/ anyone anyone anyone,” Mayberry sang, with a startlingly powerful voice for someone with such a small frame.
In fact, one of the most impressive things about Chvrches’ live performance was just how assured Mayberry was throughout, showing composure after the early hiccup and interacting with the packed audience with ease. She even had the crowd laughing when she pointed to someone at the front who had earlier asked her where a cash point was – clearly oblivious to who he was talking to. However, Mayberry’s most impressive skill remained her sumptuous vocals, which she managed to deliver effortlessly over the searching synth beats.
The highlight of the gig was undoubtedly Chvrches most recent and well-known single, the beautifully infectious Recover, with its big, enchanting chorus providing the best opportunity for a crowd sing-a-long. “And if I recover, will you be my comfort?/ or it can be over, or we can just leave it here,” belted Mayberry, safe in the knowledge that the song is a sure fire hit. Yet Chvrches are far from a one-hit wonder. We Sink is another of the band’s unreleased songs that has been heard on the internet, but its driving synths and added male vocal backing gave it a new life in the live setting.
Elsewhere, previously unheard Lungs focused more on Mayberry’s cute but engaging Scottish vocal, while Gun was an irresistibly catchy ’80s pop track, which came into its own during the huge chorus. In fact, the new songs demonstrated exactly why Chvrches have quickly become the big electro-pop hope of 2013, capturing their bounding energy and ability to construct choruses that leave a mark long after the song has finished.
The best example of this, excluding the obvious Recover, is the phenomenal Science And Vision, which will undoubtedly be an album highlight when it does eventually arrive. The song sounded incredible live and worthy of a much larger venue than Thekla, with Cook and Doherty’s chanting and wondering synths providing the basis for Mayberry’s soaring vocal. However, just when it looked like it wouldn’t be topped, Chvrches closed the set on The Mother We Share – a fan favourite among those who have followed the trio closely. The song is probably Chvrches most danceable number, with swarming synths and another colossal chorus.
At just over 40 minutes long, Chvrches first performance in Bristol was rather brisk, but the songs showcased during that time did more than enough to leave an imprint on everyone who packed into the small venue. It’s safe to say that Chvrches look set to have a massive year in 2013 and will surely be playing to much bigger audiences by the end of it. They may not have been completely perfect – it was certainly not the smoothest start to the set – but Chvrches will only get better.