REVIEW: Chvrches, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
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A “buzz” band since their arrival some three years ago, the clamour surrounding Glasgow’s Chvrches shows no sign of subsiding.

In fact, with Saturday night’s show at Newcastle’s O2 Academy selling out over a month in advance, the trio are reeling in more followers than ever, with September’s Top 5 album Every Open Eye the latest fuel powering a seemingly irrepressible surge up the pop ladder.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

It’s difficult to recall an act in recent times so deserving of their success.

Grounded and infinitely likeable, Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are in many ways a model pop group, bearing songs packed not only with potent hooks and polished production values, but also an optimism and endearing heart.

And, with two impressive records to their name, they’ve now reached a sweet spot where they can deliver an all-killer-no-filler live set, without the need to make tough decisions or squeeze out fan favourites.

Granted, there’s not much diversity to speak of, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone complaining when high octane three-minute nuggets such as We Sink, Empty Threat and Bury It are being chalked off with such ease.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Having been locked in a cycle of near constant cross-continental touring for months on end, the absence of apathy and fatigue from tonight’s performance was, in itself, commendable.

Indeed, the improvements since their previous visit in March last year were there for all to see – and not only because of the wider pool of material at their disposal.

The most obvious were projected by Lauren Mayberry, whose growth as a frontwoman was reflected both in her enhanced on-stage confidence and the consistency of her vocals.

While she’s is undoubtedly the star, the trio have always been at pains to project themselves as a fully-fledged band, with multi-instrumentalist Doherty retaining his share of the mic on a typically frenetic Under the Tide.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

That, alongside the likes of Gun and The Mother We Share, is now a well-established live favourite, but tonight it was a new cut which took the title of standout.

It’s rare you hear a song so blatantly written for the live arena as Clearest Blue, but the predictability of its throb and build did nothing to quell the euphoria once it hit that glorious technicolour climax.

A fulfilling night would have reached even further had it not suffered from muffled, bass-heavy sound, which often dulled Doherty and Cook’s instrumentals and drowned Mayberry’s voice.

The issue did alleviate as the show progressed, but Chvrches are now in a place where their music has the immediacy, boldness and charm to tackle such adversity head-on.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

If they continue to play their cards right going forward, it’s surely only a matter of time until these Academy-sized venues will no longer suffice.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chvrches performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.