Wednesday, 5 November 2014


The Corn Exchange, Edinburgh 05th Nov 2014


Wiki says - Chvrches (pronounced as "churches" and stylised as CHVRCHΞS) are a Scottish electronic band, formed in 2011. They chose the name Chvrches, using a Roman "v" to avoid confusions with actual churches on internet searches. The group consists of Lauren Mayberry (lead vocals, additional synthesisers, and samplers), Iain Cook (synthesisers, guitar, bass, vocals), and Martin Doherty (synthesisers, samplers, vocals).  

Chvrches at The Corn Exchange Nov 2014
I have heard and liked much of their music, but was never enamoured enough to seek out the CD or vinyl, preferring to download the The Bones of What You Believe digital album last year. However, I recently saw some live footage of them performing 'We Sink' and 'Under The Tide', and was impressed enough to seek out tickets for this, their current tour. Arriving early enough to take up a coveted spot in the mosh-pit against the crowd barrier, I prepared myself for Chvrches.

Too many laser lights can be bad for your health
Two things struck me immediately as the trio took to the stage - the light-show was definitely going to be amazing, and the volume was turned up to 11 at least. I've never seen so many sychronised lasers and the last time I felt my entrails in such perfect synch with the bass was when I saw John Entwistle's Ox in the Edinburgh Student Health Centre in 1970-something.

"We’re a band called Chvrches," announced singer Lauren Mayberry, with a grin. "Thank you for coming to see our show" and they kicked off the set.

Iain Cook and Martin Doherty accompanied the bitter sweet voice of Lauren Mayberry with the powerful, bass-driven synth melodies on 'We Sink' and 'Lies' - the show's two opening tracks. The lights and sounds stunned the crowd as Mayberry danced centre-stage with the microphone cable wrapped around her hands, occasionally using it as a lasso swirling above her head. Her stage presence was relaxed and confident, unlike some live footage I'd previously seen. 

With the first 3 or 4 tracks under their belts, Mayberry took a minute of two to chat to the crowd. 'This is the first time we've played Edinburgh in ages' she said, 'couple of years I think'. Cook gently reminded her that they'd played the Hogmanay gig in Princes Street Gardens last year. 'Oh yeah' she went on '...well our first proper venue gig in ages'. 

Two wee lassies at the front in Pink Rabbit onesy's were singled out by Mayberry, much to their delight. "What are you wearing?" she enquired, before saying "Well I'm not judging - if it wasn't so hot up here I might wear a onesy myself"

She pulled out her earpieces and started  some banter with the crowd but she couldn't really hear the responses, so she said "OK, I'm going to put these back in my ears so that we don't get into a complex situation where you think I'm ignoring you and I can't hear what you're saying, and all that good stuff". Her relaxed confident style, and little asides from Cook and Doherty suggest that they have all benefited stage-wise from their recent extensive touring. 

'Recover' was a real high volume, synthesiser powered anthem, but I feel that it is Mayberry's sweet, endearingly fragile vocals that make the song special, and in general where Chvurches' appeal lies. 

Having said that, one of the highlights of the show for me was 'Under the Tide' where synth player Martin Doherty took over lead vocals and provided us with some energetic (and unusual) dancing that got every single person in the hall moving along with him. 

Mayberry: "When I was young I always wanted to be a backing vocalist. I used to watch Top Of The Pops and study all those cool hand movements, plus not getting recognised in the street. I could have been one of Gabrielle's backing vocalists. Anyway, if this all goes to rats, I could still have a career as a keyboard playing backing vocalist."

The crowd were enthusiastic throughout, but they really got into their stride, singing and bouncing to the big signature tracks like Recover and The Mother We Share. The latter of which was their final song. The trio clapped the crowd and headed off stage. 

Things began to get pretty hectic in the mosh-pit as youngsters jostled to get closer for the expected encores, so I headed to the back of the hall. Partly to avoid being crushed by the devotees, but also to give my ears a well deserved recovery period from the volume. 

The band returned to slow things down a little with You Caught the Light, followed by the more upbeat crowd pleasers 'Dead Air' and 'By the Throat'.

Good gig, but I really felt that the sound quality suffered at the hands of the volume. 
I thought perhaps it was my position right at the front, but after retiring to a safer distance, it was exactly the same. Most of the vocals were kinda buzzy, affected by the very high bass level. Kinda like you might get if your home hi-fi speakers were not quite up the specification of your amplifier, but you insisted on turning it up full anyway. Just distortion. Not all the time, but it was apparent on almost every song.

Chvrches still delivered a very memorable set, and I think are destined for great things.

-- Setlist --
We Sink 
Night Sky 
Get Away (new)
Under the Tide 
The Mother We Share 

-- Encore --
You Caught the Light 
Dead Air 
By the Throat 


I knew nothing of Melissa Jefferson, better known by her stage name Lizzo, before this gig. According to Wiki, she is an American alternative hip hop artist who moved from Detroit to Houston, then finally to Minneapolis in 2011. She is a founding member of indie hip hop groups The Chalice, Grrrl Prty, The Clerb, and Absynthe. Her debut album, Lizzobangers, was released in 2013


Wearing a massive blonde curly wig (or was that her own barnet?), and backed by Sophia Eris on decks, beats and loops, she stirred up the crowd. She had a pretty good voice when she sang, but most of the songs weren't sung. She rapped a lot and used the F-word a lot. 
She changed the lyrics of 'Paris' to incorporate the words 'Kilt, Edinburgh (instead of Paris) and bagpipes'. Firing off confetti cannon, distributing balloons into the audience and getting one young guy (Peter from Glasgow) up on stage to 'twerk' with her and win a coveted "Lizzo Made Me Do It" t-shirt, her set was good fun.
She even had the crowd teaching her how to pronounce Edinburgh correctly, rather than the traditional US pronunciation "Edin-Bo-Row"
Her music was not something I would have normally chosen to listen to, but this was an entertaining support set.

-- Setlist --
Turn Down for What (DJ Snake & Lil Jon cover)
Bus Passes and Happy Meals 
New Eyes (Clean Bandit collaboration/cover)
Batches & Cookies (feat. Sophia Eris)

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