"Much of charm of the show was wrapped up in Mayberry's endearing Scottish accent, her prolific mid-set musings eliciting the biggest cheers from fans."
Fresh from Splendour, Wafia set the tone impeccably.
Tender vocals were layered upon ever building masses of synth to create an incredibly dense yet delicate sound. Heartburn was a highlight, as was new track Bodies. Splendour sideshows are a funny beast, Wafia was on just too early to be fully appreciated by the crowd, but she definitely posted a wonderful advertisement for herself, and your humble narrator imagines many punters in the crowd will be making their way out to see her next headlining show.
Mansionair were next to saunter onto the stage. Far dancier than their predecessor, they were able to vamp up the energy in the room and pull forward the masses from the bar. Violet City and Astronaut (Something About Your Love) were both highlights, inciting singalongs from the remarkably dense Hordern crowd. The entire set was tight with frontman Jack Froggatt's impeccable voice captivating the crowd, just as rich and pure as it sounds on the records.
Chvrches took no time at all in taking to the stage and launching into Get Out. The glitter still firmly painted on lead singer Lauren Mayberry's face highlighted how little time there had been between their headline set at Splendour and the Sydney sideshow. They spent little time humouring the crowd, churning through Gun and Graffiti before acknowledging that this wasn't a festival and they could take their time and enjoy the moments between songs.
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Indeed much of charm of the show was wrapped up in Mayberry's endearing Scottish accent, her prolific mid-set musings eliciting the biggest cheers from fans. She quipped about how much she disliked the attention despite her excellent Crash Bandicoot-inspired dance moves. There was a two-song interlude where keyboard player Martin Doherty assumed the responsibility of lead vocals but failed to live up to the hype that Mayberry demanded. Ultimately Mayberry's enamouring Glasgow-coloured alto regained the microphone and the hearts and minds of the audience.
They carried on, an intriguing mix of old stuff and new stuff. Recover rolled into Leave A Trace, entrancing the audience before the stage lights dimmed and the band exited and reentered shortly thereafter. The encore bracket begun with Mayberry surveying the T-shirts pressed up against bar in the front row. She was impressed with several but with her eyes settled on a Celine Dion shirt. Mayberry riffed with the session drummer, initiating a brief impromptu Celine Dion cover before launching into the final bracket, which included hit track The Mother We Share.
Chvrches were good. Musically they were enchanting. Despite her introverted personality, Mayberry's stage presence was huge, and the show was well-constructed. The concert definitely felt like it was a Splendour sideshow; an excellent band going through the motions and recovering from what must have been an incredible time in Byron Bay.