by Alice Woods

There was a large buzz of energy around the O2 Academy Bristol as Chvrches got ready to play one of their first few dates of their UK tour, in support of their newest album Every Open Eye. The gig, having sold out months ago, was brimming with fans eager to hear the new material for the first time. As a nice touch, Chvrches had organised a meet and greet for fans that were signed up to their FANCLVB mailing list (including me!). It’s really nice to have the opportunity to meet other fans and the band, and you can tell they’re really grateful for the support. They’re putting on meet and greets for the rest of the dates on this tour, so keep your eyes out if you’re attending one!

With regards to the concert itself, I found that the venue was at least a third of the size of other O2 Academies across the country, despite boasting a capacity of 1600. This wasn’t to the detriment of the gig however, as it meant that there was more of an intimate atmosphere.

The support artist, Mansionair, were an electro-indie band from Sydney. What was impressive about these guys was their multitasking ability; the keyboardist would switch to synths, the drummer occasionally bringing out a rainmaker. For a band with only three members, they had a good command of the stage, producing lucid, dreamy songs that captured the attention of the audience.

CHVRCHES came on to a fairly impressive light show which continued throughout. It’s not often I comment on the tech at gigs, but the lighting was fitting and impressive enough to warrant a mention. The sound was thoroughly consistent, Lauren Mayberry’s clear voice rose sharply throughout the crowd, and very rarely faltered.  Coupled with the fact that she was near-always dashing and dancing across the stage, it made for a fun and entertaining show. The energy of the songs was captured in her movements, which makes a pleasant change from bands who just stand there and go through the motions. Popular songs such as The Mother We Share and Gun, plus songs from their new album were well executed with Mayberry’s voice ringing high over the bouncing synths.

Like Mansionair before them, CHVRCHES would often swap roles, with Martin Docherty singing vocals (and showing off some impressive dance moves) on Under The Tide. However, the standout songs were Science/Visions and Afterglow. The two couldn’t be more different; the first being an ethereal, almost supernatural sounding synth extravaganza that arrests the attention of the crowd. Afterglow, is much slower, yet still as emotive, and was a suitable fit for the first song of their encore. Overall, there was a good balance between new and old songs, and I was not at all disappointed with the setlist.

One final standout aspect of the concert was CHVRCHES’s crowd interaction. The band were light-hearted and jokey, making references to SeaWorld, cider, and places in Bristol they wanted to visit. Like the meet and greet, this banter really made the gig a special one, and definitely made me want to come to more CHVRCHES shows in the future. If you missed this one, they’ll be back soon enough, but if you have a chance to catch them while they’re still touring, don’t miss out!