Chvrches @ MTelus – 6th July 2019

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Well, I’m finishing up my 2019 Jazz Fest the same way as I started it – trying to pull off an epic double-gig marathon.  After the Madeleine Peyroux-Richard Reed Parry opening, tonight I am starting with Scottish Indietronica pioneers Chvrches, and their first headline show in Montreal since 2013.  I couldn’t make that show, for whatever reason, so I’ve been waiting a long time for this one!  As disappointed as I was to hear that First Aid Kit had to cancel their visit this year, I was thrilled to find out Chvrches were their replacement!

The lights drop and strobes start to flicker around 9.20 pm, and the band trot out to rapturous applause before frontwoman Lauren Mayberry coordinates the clapping in time to the dirty beats of Get Out.  Eyes sparkling with glitter, she twirls around the stage in between her vocal parts, before excitedly proclaiming at the song’s conclusion “we’re a band called Chvrches, thanks for coming out to see us!

The thunderous sludgy beat of Bury It sets things off again, sounding way more pounding in the live setting, and contrasts even more starkly with Laurens angelic vocals, who then roams the stage like a bona fide Karen O on the stellar We Sink, as the anthems belt out in quick succession.  It’s a truly breathless start to the show and a relentless pace that rarely lets up.

After acknowledging their prolonged absence from our fair city (“it’s been a long time since we played, we’re really happy people came out!”), a resonant Graffiti is followed by Graves, which sounds a lot like the spooky intro theme from Stranger Things, now that I think about it.  The beats are huge again on Miracle, before sounding a little more muffled to accentuate Lauren’s delicate ghostly vocals on Science/Visions.  She then switches position with keyboardist Martin Doherty for the anthemic Under The Tide, and he clearly relishes his moment as frontman, winking at a guy with a Scottish flag before bouncing around the stage for the entirety of the song.  It’s both anthemic and euphoric, verging on rave at times, as Martin bellows in a thick Scottish accent “No fear / I’ll be your eyes / I’ll be a lifeline” and MTelus bounces in unison.

Lauren and Martin switch back on the synth-laden Deliverance before the Stranger Things vibe returns on Forever, which is souped-up courtesy of both Martin and keyboardist Iain Cook emerging from behind their keyboards with guitars partway through.  Things then go momentarily moody and sultry, with the stage sinking into darkness save for some sparse dark red light, before a tapping metronomic drum beat rolls into life, only for Lauren to obliterate it with the opening verse of Recover.  Lauren clearly has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand at this point, as she leads them once again, starting a mass clap-along at the breakdown, then having them swaying their arms aloft on the wonderful Leave A Trace and the joyous Clearest Blue to close out the main set.

After the briefest of pauses, the band returns to the stage, with Lauren declaring “wow, Saturday night in Montreal is quite the thing, thank you guys!”  The Mother We Share elicits yet more love from the raucous crowd, who bounce throughout, before taking over vocal duties momentarily on last song Never Say Die, as Lauren backs off the mic to allow the crowd to sing the “didn’t you say that?” refrain in deafening fashion, blowing the roof off MTelus.  After closing out the song with the same twirls she started the show with, Lauren and the rest of the band leave the stage for good after a phenomenal 75 mins.  What a return, and what a way to close out the 2019 Jazz Fest!  Alas, I am not finished, and I bolt to l’Astral for part 2 of the double-header…

Setlist 

  • 1.    Get Out
  • 2.    Bury It
  • 3.    We Sink
  • 4.    Graffiti
  • 5.    Graves
  • 6.    Miracle
  • 7.    Science/Visions
  • 8.    Under the Tide
  • 9.    Deliverance
  • 10. Forever
  • 11. Recover
  • 12. Leave a Trace
  • 13. Clearest Blue
    Encore
  • 14. The Mother We Share
  • 15. Never Say Die

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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