Ahead of their Splendour In The Grass appearance and side shows in Sydney and Melbourne this weekend, Wind Back Wednesday returns to the first tour here by Glasgow’s Chvrches, in 2013, for a taste of things to come and a reference point for the 2018 version of the band. Note to promoters: have you booked Ghetto Pussy?
Oxford Art Factory, August 2
Mandatory British press blather notwithstanding, it’s a bit early doors to be getting hyperbolic about this Glasgow trio - the band who decided not only is there no i in team but no u in Chvrches. They don’t have enough really good songs yet to get past the hour mark and their stagecraft is still a work in progress, for a start.
But until their return for next year’s Laneways Festival there is fun to be had already. That might come in the boom and crash of Lies, where slurry basslines, grand ballroom keyboard riffs and hardware store machined drum beats (all played on things you plug in by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty) stamp their feet in a nice approximation of dance.
Or it might be in the instant sugar rush of Guns, where early Depeche Mode intersects with the best kind of early Madonna for a synth pop song worthy of the oversized shirt and undersized haircut.
Or possibly in Lungs, one of several songs from the soon-to-come debut album, where Lauren Mayberry’s casual charisma is overtaken by a voice which goes past its obvious sweetness to something suggesting majestic isn’t out of the question one day.
For that to happen though, she’s going to have to broaden beyond the almost deadpan delivery, something which is accentuated rather than contrasted when Doherty sings with her – fellow Glaswegians Sons and Daughters could show the way there.
(Meanwhile, just putting this out there: Clare Grogan. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. At all.)
If the Doherty-voiced Tides took on a little too much New Order (including flattened vocals) and Strong Hand felt earthbound despite the slap of the synth drums, the kiss-and-drag feel of Now Is Not The Time – with live bass, murmuring backing vocals and wistful lead voice – sank its hooks in quite deep.
Now, I don't know that the band had anything to do with this but in a glassed area towards the back of the room, a live art installation by one half of Ghetto Pussy (no, I hadn’t any clue before this either) offered a semi-naked woman in S&M facemask, conducting rituals around candles, bowls and various modes of prostration.
You don’t get that at a La Roux, or Depeche Mode, show.
Chvrches play Splendour In The Grass on July 22, the Hordern Pavilion on July 22 and Margaret Court Arena on July 23.