Alexandra Palace is an imposing venue – the front facade towers over the London skyline, giving just a glimpse at the scale of the inside before you enter. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry tells the crowd in the midst of their set that she reckons it’s the band’s 40th show on tour for their second album Every Open Eye, and easily their largest headline show to date. It would be no wonder if Chvrches had anxieties about playing here tonight.
Keeping them company on this tour are Australian band Mansionair and the accomplished Four Tet; both highly capable of warming the crowd up until Chvrches hit the stage. Mansionair have an arena sound (imagine Drenge crossed with Years and Years) that manages to fill this expansive space, even if it isn’t exactly teeming with people just half an hour after doors have opened. By Four Tet though people are beginning to pick their way to the front, and his DJ set makes it almost feel like 3am in XOYO – except I’m not as drunk as I should be. His set features an impressive light show and bass that buries itself in your ribcage, and after the seamless dance set (including one Jamie xx remix), the entire crowd can just about anticipate how spectacular the show is going to be for the main act.
It’s safe to say that if Chvrches are nervous, it doesn’t show. From the very start of their set an enormous energy is apparent, yet to say Chvrches started as they meant to go on would be false – the truth is they could have performed every song they’ve ever made with the same energy. Although this may be a tour in support of their second album, they play almost an even mix of both their records, which definitely pleases life-long Chvrches fans. Bass and synth-heavy anthems like ‘Keep You On My Side’ and ‘Tether’ make for euphoric moments, with the bright lights behind the trio providing visual support to the songs. Hearing songs old and new in a continuous setlist makes it very easy to see just how consistent this band are; every song garners the same reaction from the crowd, the same amount of glorious energy and excited dancing.
The trio aren’t quiet between songs either, keeping up playful banter between each other and the crowd. Mayberry is a captivating presence on stage, her little anecdotes and comments having the whole arena laughing. Mayberry jokes about how after the tour is done she just wants to settle down to watch Netflix in bed, and even fits in some quips against overhasty journalists, which are reacted to with unrestrained applause and cheer from the crowd. It’s so apparent that this bad are entirely genuine; in their music and themselves, which makes them even more of a delight to watch.
For one night only, Alexandra Palace has been transformed into synth-pop heaven, and Chvrches have retained their place as one of the most exciting bands around right now.