Watching Chvrches perform at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush surrounded predominantly by twentysomething men, I was drawn back to singer Lauren Mayberry’s recent article for The Guardian. Were these same men the online misogynists who, unprovoked, threatened to rape and abuse the singer from behind the comfort of their keyboards and screens? Or were these simply avid fans who, having followed the band online, helped to put them at the forefront of British synth-pop and beyond to success in the US?
Regardless, last night’s gig was all about the music as the band performed tracks from their brilliant debut album ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’. Lyrically their songs are rife with melancholy, but performed live the tracks fizzed as much as the disco lasers in the background, all roughed up with Glaswegian grit. How the crowd weren’t dancing more is beyond me. The big singles were of course well received: the yearning Recover, the abrasive Lies, the spiteful Gun and, saved for last, The Mother We Share. Yet other album tracks were surprisingly powerful, from the sparkling pop of Night Sky, to the 80s action film feel of Science/Visions and the final drop of Tether that was utterly euphoric, making for a set of consistently high quality. Even Martin Doherty, usually confined to keys, revealed a buoyant stage persona as he sang on Under The Tide.
As frontwoman, though, it’s Mayberry who’s at the centre of their sound, her pure vocal sharply piercing the neon textures and rumbling bass (despite suffering from a cold). She may have a quiet, cutesy persona that doesn’t translate into a big performance, but she’s not so innocent as to be incapable of fighting back against her sexist critics – the music does all the talking for her. As she sings on Gun, “I will be a gun and it’s you I’ll come for”. Watch out.