In 2013, CHVRCHES went from an obscure synth-pop band to one of the world’s most beloved indie artists, partially due to lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s dedication to her fan base as well as the members’ finely tuned producing skills, love for synthesizers, and 80’s dance music influences.
After recently dropping their second album Every Open Eye, CHVRCHES is back on the road in full force. Opening a chilly evening in Columbus with Never Ending Circles, one of the album’s 3 singles, Mayberry’s voice seemed a little bit shaky, but by the middle of the second track, We Sink, she had found her footing and perfectly blended her voice with the heavy synth beats crafted by the band.
As the band ramped up their energy on stage, their sound and lighting designed played to their strengths while never detracting from the musical performance. Mayberry’s voice, when tuned in, carried the band into the middle of their set with Keep you on My Side, followed by a very powerful performance of Lies, drawing from the darker energy of the group’s first album The Bones of What You Believe. A heartwarming, earnest version of Make Them Gold followed, a song attributed to bringing out the best of the band. Science/Visions and Empty Threat perfectly compared and contrasted the band’s first album’s darker sound versus the second’s more uplifting feeling, creating a sophisticated juxtaposition of the conflicting emotions of both albums.
And then there was Clearest Blue. The crowd, completely entranced by the band’s performance up until this point, effectively exploded at the song’s powerful drop as every single person in the pit area released their pent up energy from the rest of the set at that very moment, bringing out the dancey side of CHVRCHES’ music with unbelievable force.
This unrelenting energy continued into Under the Tide, sung by Martin Doherty, backed by Mayberry’s vocals. Despite not being a prominent song off the first album, Under the Tide was definitely one of the highlights of the night as Doherty gave it his all at center stage, while Mayberry undauntingly manned the synth battle station normally operated by Doherty.
Their performance had turned into a steamroller which barreled its way through the setlist until the end of the night, as the band continued into what many consider the best song off their first album: Gun, ending it with Mayberry’s haunting line, “and I’m gonna see that you won’t go far”. Bury It was next riling the crowd into a mild frenzy with its dancey synthetica rythms. The main set ended with a perfect performance of Leave a Trace, the biggest single off of their new album.
After a tiny break in preparation for the encore, Mayberry, Doherty, and Iain Cook came back onstage to calm the crowd down with the charming song Afterglow, a great aperitif for their number 1 hit. The Mother We Share encapsulated everything people love about CHVRCHES: their 80’s inspired, synthetic beats, Mayberry’s relatable and empathetic voice, and perfectly produced synth rhythms.
Songs not included were Lungs, notable for its drops and Strong Hand, a bonus track off of the band’s first album, which could have also served as a great finale. Dead Air, a song created for Catching Fire’s movie soundtrack would have been a treat for the audience as well, but now with two full albums to choose from, its hard to fault the band for coming up with an already great setlist
CHVRCHES’ play between the first and second album was near perfect, as they weaved in and out of both during their performance. Their performance felt therapeutic, allowing the audience to bring out their emotions during the slower, more lyrical songs while dancing their hearts out to the bands upbeat hits. On the eve of Lauren Mayberry’s birthday, all of CHVRCHES exceeded expectations, milked the crowd of every emotion they had, and left them feeling incredibly content as the last vocal loops of “The Mother We Share” faded away.