With the festival season well and truly alive around Australia, punters could be forgiven for opting to stay at home on a Thursday night to save some money, get some sleep and remember that they can see their favourite acts at whatever festival might be rolling through their city that weekend.
When it comes to Scottish synth pop powerhouse Chvrches, however, their sold-out sideshow offered something far greater than a 45 minute festival set.
First up was English artist Martian Doyle, better known by his stage name East India Youth, thrown the chance to gain some new Sydney fans out of the sizeable throng that had gathered early. Suited up for the occasion and accompanied by his faithful laptops, Doyle presented a set of dreamy yet dark techno music. Not the kind of sounds to dance to, Doyle instead focused upon drawing in the crowd to his own dream world, saving his boppiest track for the end with Hearts That Never, igniting some toe tapping and head bopping in the crowd.
As 9:30 ticked over the house lights dimmed, replaced by the softly glowing stage lights illuminating the silhouettes of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. When the dark silhouette of lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry appeared, the crowd collectively lost its shite. With Mayberry towards the back of the stage with the microphone in hand, the band paused for a crucial few seconds, before bursting into the triumphant Never Ending Circles.
From the opening song, it was evident that Mayberry is one hell of an energetic front woman. For someone who “used to stand still and hope the ground would swallow me whole,” she is now one of the leading performers on the touring circuit. Commanding the attention of the crowd, she pranced across the stage guiding the audience through the glitchy We Sink and Keep You On My Side with all manner of fist pumps, kicks and spins.
As the night progressed, one couldn’t help but be impressed by the well-oiled machine that Chvrches has become. Well known for playing more than 350 shows in support of their first release The Bones of What You Believe, and having spent a majority of 2015 touring their new release Every Open Eye around the world, the band could have been forgiven for going through the motions on stage. However, all three members looked as though they were simply enjoying themselves, not allowing the pressures of performing live to distract them from the sheer joy of presenting their craft to the masses. Early cuts Lies and Tether both felt fresh, with the band presenting them with the same excitement and energy as newer material.
The outstanding production further added to the overall feeling that this was a world-class show. Each song had its own detailed lighting sequence, with a series of LED screens behind the band enhancing the visual experience for all.
As the night rolled on, the band presented a carefully chosen mix of songs both new and old, with highlights including the retro 80’s anthem Gun and party starter Bury It, clearly one of the bands favourites to perform live – as evidenced by cheesy grins all round. However, it was clear that the crowd was particularity eager to hear two numbers from the bands latest release.
That wish was granted late in the evening. Announcing that, “we are only gonna do a couple more songs for you guys”, the mellow grooves of Leave A Trace rang out from the Enmore speakers. With its triumphant sing along chorus, the triple j go-to dance number brought the atmosphere of the festival season to the Enmore, preparing the crowd for the final song of the main set. That song was Clearest Blue. Perhaps the most well-written song the band has produced, Clearest Blue brought even the most cynical dads in the audience to their feet, with the final drop prompting a wild, wall to wall rave throughout the venue.
The band indeed returned for the token encore, leaving the crowd with the tender Afterglow and concluding with The Mother We Share. However, it felt like the peak of the concert had passed. It would have been wiser for the band to switch these final two tracks with Leave a Trace and Clearest Blue, with the latter truly possessing a sense of finality.
Regardless, fans walked away from the Enmore happy that they had chosen to spend their evening with one of the fastest rising acts in the world. From a critical point, I could only agree that Chvrches had gifted the working night faithful with a world-class set delivered with strength, power and conviction. Sure, you might be able to see your favorite international acts tear through their greatest hits at the festivals on the weekend. But if you give them the time of day and go to their sideshows, they will prove why they were worth the effort to book in the first place, and Chvrches were no exception to the rule.
Image: The AU Review