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Chrvches live at The Dome, London (published in Metro, September 2015)

Chvrches
The Dome, London
**** out of 5
by SIMON PRICE

It takes a great deal of charm to overcome an annoying name. And Chvrches is a very annoying name (never trust anyone who doesn't say it “Ch'vurches”). Fortunately, a great deal of charm is exactly what Chvrches have. A sizeable chunk of it is embodied in the neither sizeable nor chunky Lauren Mayberry, who cheerfully admits that her chatty, engaging stage persona has been not-inaccurately described as “like I'm compering a friend's wedding”.

The venue the Glasgow synthpop trio chose for their “UK album launch type gig type thingy” (a typical piece of Mayberry self-deprecation) is a Tufnell Park indie rock dancehall more accustomed to the guitarry sounds of Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine than to clean, pristine electronica. The set was split 50/50 between new album Every Open Eye and big-selling debut The Bones Of What You Believe, but the new material connected effortlessly, with “Make Them Gold” and “Empty Threat” provoking massed overhead handclaps on the on-beat, and the shuddering high-stakes drama of this year's “Keep You On My Side” received just as rapturously as 2012 single “The Mother We Share”.

Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's emotional chord changes provided an often-stunning backdrop for Mayberry's minty-fresh voice, whose importance was proven when Doherty took lead vocal on one track and Chvrches slumped temprarily into the ordinary. If there's a criticism of them as a live act, it's that over 80 minutes, the songs can merge together somewhat. But it's a good song, and if the sameyness ever palls, there's always Lauren to break the fourth wall. Explaining her choice of electronic drum pads over traditional ones for ease of tuning, she warned “Don't say I was lazy in a review”, adding “Not that I ever read them.”

The singer's reluctance to read what's written about her is understandable, given the disgracefully misogynistic barrage of trolling she recently endured (and strongly rebutted) for the crime of wearing a short dress in a video. But whatever Lauren Mayberry may be - singer, drummer, wedding compere - 'lazy' is just about the lowest word on the list.



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