The Scottish synth pop wizards in CHVRCHES wrapped up their North American tour last week with two back to back shows at the Hollywood Palladium. The band was touring in support of their killer new album, Screen Violence, which dropped this summer on Glassnote Records, on their first trek across the states since the apocalypse of 2020.
Unfortunately, the specter of COVID lingered over Friday’s show, as the opening band, the British indie rockers Wet Leg, had to cancel their appearance because of exposure to the dreaded virus. This last minute cancellation caused earlier set times for the night’s headliners and their main support, singer-songwriter Donna Missal, but that just meant the scores of rabid CHVRCHES fans inside the Palladium didn’t have to wait as long to watch their electro heroes take the stage.
It’s been a few years since this author had the privilege of watching CHVRCHES light up a concert stage, and I was pleased to learn the power trio have incorporated a live drummer into the mix, which makes them a magical quartet now, I suppose? Either way, this new setup ruled, especially when playing new songs off their latest record that veer heavily into the indie rock/post-punk realm.
One of the absolute highlights of the night was watching the band rip through their new jam “California” with Iian Cook on bass and Martin Doherty on guitar, in full-on rock band mode. Frontwoman extraordinaire Lauren Mayberry’s voice roared with her homies away from their synths, just going for the crowd’s jugular with awesome stage lights and visuals behind them … it was one hell of a sight.
Now four albums into their career, CHVRCHES have reached the point where crafting a setlist that appeases all of their fans starts to get weird. They plucked major singles from previous releases like “The Mother We Share,” “Forever,” and “Leave A Trace” alongside their latest smashes “He Said She Said” and the epic, “How Not to Drown.” Seriously, “How Not to Drown” might just be one of the best songs the band has ever written and finally seeing them perform it live was all sorts of amazing. It also ruled hearing some old school tunes like “Night Sky” again.
Whatever they played, the Hollywood crowd loved every moment of CHVRCHES set. To describe the mood inside the venue as festive would be an understatement. Part rock show, part rave, part karaoke sing-along, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy yourself when Glasgow’s finest do their thing on stage. Don’t sleep on their new album, and definitely catch them on their next tour!