Chvrches at The Olympia Theatre Dublin, 21 February 2019
It’s the first of two sold-out shows in Dublin for synth-pop supremos Chvrches, the first headline gig here since releasing their third album, ‘Love Is Dead’, nearly a year ago.
After support from Let’s Eat Grandma, the Glasgow trio take to the stage with Get Out. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry lets her distinctive, powerful vocals fill the space, while Iain Cook and Martin Doherty man the synths on either side of her.
It has to be said that Chvrches’ most recent album was not perfect, with some repetitive ideas that fell flat. But these issues are forgotten during the band’s energetic live performance, which includes plenty of material from their first two records, providing the light and shade that was largely missing from their latest release.
After the opener, the set goes straight into the buoyant Bury It from 2016’s ‘Every Open Eye’, before throwing it all the way back to the group’s 2013 debut with a great double bill of Gun and We Sink.
A couple of newer hits follow, and then Doherty assumes vocal duties for God’s Plan and Under The Tide, while Mayberry takes a turn behind the keyboard. Although these aren’t the band’s strongest tracks, it’s an interesting change that mixes up the sound and energy of the night’s performance.
There’s plenty of banter between songs, with the trio talking candidly to each other and the crowd. Topics range from Brexit to sex to the lack of women who have played this venue compared to men – a subject Mayberry has been pretty outspoken about over the years.
It’s a strange but endearing vibe as the group shifts from these relaxed and chatty moments, to diving straight back into big beats and anthemic hooks once the music starts and the dazzling lights return.
It’s towards the end of the 90-minute set when the show really ramps up to another level. With Leave A Trace and Clearest Blue, Mayberry’s infectious energy and incessant spinning gets the crowd going.
An obligatory encore brings the group back out for The Mother We Share – their first big single and perhaps still their most-loved track if the crowd tonight are anything to go by. Mayberry starts out in a stripped-back near-acapella style, but she has plenty of support from the audience who seem to know every word.
As the shining, emotional vocals continue over the twinkling synths and punching drums, it’s a reminder of what Chvrches can do when they’re at their best, before the night wraps up with a lively finale of Never Say Die.