Chvrches more than live up to the hype at Glasgow’s ABC


If you’d said just 18 months ago that a trio of Scots would score a top 15 hit in the US Billboard chart with an album of lush electronica, your friends might have looked at you a bit oddly.

If you’d added that they would consist of a recently-graduated journalism student, the former lead guitarist from post-rock outfit Aerogramme and a touring member of reknowned miserablists The Twilight Sad, well, they might have doubted your grip on reality.

But that’s exactly what Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook recently achieved with debut album ‘The Bones of What You Believe’. To put that into some perspective Oasis’ debut ‘Definitely Maybe’ charted in the US at 58.

This success, both in the US and in the UK, where they charted at number 8, is down to a twin-assault on the live circuit and the internet. It’s a business model likely to be copied again and again in the coming years.

Following their last Glasgow gig at the Arches, the trio have toured the world, playing to larger and larger crowds and wowing stadiums supporting Depeche Mode.

Last week they returned home for two sold-out gigs at the O2 ABC, the first chance for the majority of their homegrown fans to see them in the flesh. Nobody would have left disappointed.

The three amble out and take centre-stage together. Mayberry may be in the middle for the sake of symmetry (Chvrches LOVE symmetry), but this is a band where all members get equal billing - their democracy of stage presence echoing the insistence that the photogenic Mayberry is only ever interviewed alongside her bandmates.

Admittedly her voice is one of Chvrches’ major assets - by turns fragile and powerful with an ever-present Scottish brogue - but the wall of sound created by Cook and Doherty on guitar, synthesiser and sampler is what impresses most of all.

The internet viral hits that created such a storm are present and correct - ‘Lies’, ‘Gun’ and ‘Recover’ all prompting cheers and outbreaks of dancing on the packed floor.

Recent single ‘The Mother We Share” also goes down a storm, as does an arch cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’.

Oddly enough though, the night’s stand-out moments come from the less high-profile album tracks.

‘Science/Visions’ is a revelation, while ‘Under the Tide’ - Doherty’s only lead vocal of the night - is turned into a momentous seething mass of sound in a live setting. It’s arguably the high point of the whole set and demonstrates the band’s admirable strength in depth.

Already booked up to play Barrowlands next March, on this form you’d best get your tickets now.