Review by Andrew Horan
Photos by Dawn Hamilton
Scottish electro-pop superstars CHVRCHES may have been on the second night of a two night stand, but they showed no signs of fatigue.
After an unremarkable set by Glassnote labelmates Mansionair (decent Primal Scream-style dance-rock tunes but they were kind of boring) CHVRCHES took to the stage to a hero’s welcome. Following a short instrumental track, Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty walked on stage to a huge cheer.
They kicked off the set in truly dramatic fashion with the first track from their latest release, Every Open Eye, ‘Never Ending Circles’. The band’s impressive lighting set-up never once overwhelmed them and complemented the music perfectly, bringing a rave-like atmosphere to many of their electro-bangers.
They ripped through the first few songs before Mayberry thanked the audience for coming out. They went back to their breakthrough debut album Bones of What You Believe and had everyone in the capacity crowd moving to ‘Lies’.
Mayberry frequently thanked the audience, noting that it was remarkable that they had sold out both nights. She joked that she couldn’t say it had been a while since they played in Toronto since they had played the night before.
Showing that she’s a consummate professional, at one point Mayberry stopped the set to check on an audience member in the front row who was crying after Iain Cook pointed her out. Bandmate Martin Doherty kept up a charmingly awkward conversation with the audience while she comforted the audience member.
There was no doubt that Mayberry is the true star of CHVRCHES but her bandmates are no slouches either; Doherty took over vocal duties for one song while Mayberry moved behind the keyboards.
During ‘No Regrets’, she played a drum kit, much to the audience’s delight. Mayberry stalked across the stage throughout the set and both she, Cook and Doherty kept a great and infectious energy level.
At one point, Mayberry quipped that it was great that they had a new record out and could play more than 10 songs.
CHVRCHES have brought a pronounced 80’s synth-pop sound to their music; this was evident on the Depeche Mode-influenced ‘Bury It’. Towards the end of the set, Mayberry gave a shout out to the people on the balcony and at the back of the venue, commenting that’s where she usually hangs out when she’s at shows.
They wrapped up the set with, ‘Leave a Trace’, the current single. They returned to the stage a few moments later for a two song encore that saw them take it down a notch for ‘Afterglow’ and wrapped up the amazing night with their breakout single, ‘Mother We Share’.
It was an all-ages show on a school night and they couldn’t keep the kids out too late. Catching CHVRCHES at the Danforth felt like a special occasion since they likely won’t be playing venues of that size for much longer.
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