Lauren Mayberry is no stranger to Glasgow’s music scene. Known across the globe for being in one of the most innovative, refreshing, and well received bands the city has ever produced. She then left that band – Blue Sky Archives – to join Chvrches.
As much as I still admittedly have a chip on my shoulder about the demise of BSA and as a result, ducked most of Chvrches material as a protest… their popularity and contribution to pop music is undeniable. There are bands in every continent that cite Chvrches as a major influence.
Since day dot, Lauren has been a part of a collaborative effort… Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Blue Sky Archives, Chvrches… although she has been the draw, she has not been the sole creative power. Now, her first solo effort shows us what she’s got.
Upgrading from the original venue of Oran Mor, SWG3 is bursting for the homecoming show of their favourite daughter fresh from touring the new material around her adoptive home of the States.
The opener wasn’t well advertised at all in the run up to this show. All I knew when she hit the stage was that her name was Kaitlyn… and that’s because she told us. Her music is decent if you’re into electronic, laid back vibes with a lot of bottom end. She’s a little awkward moving around the stage but she appears pretty new to this game and the confidence should come to her as the music justifies it.
There’s what seems like a long wait between acts tonight. An intro song plays as the lights dip but it overstays it’s welcome as the crowd are stood looking at an empty stage for minutes. The intro might have worked had there been some fireworks or explosive climax… but you can’t do that in SWG3 TV Room… perhaps production ideas that are still living in Chvrches sized venues.
After a first track that is in the same vein as Chvrches – but you can tell it’s got more Lauren in it than than her band’s material – she explains how we’re going to hear a lot of songs we don’t know. This is true unless you’ve been listening to the album or previous shows… as some clearly have when it comes to clapping along.
There’s a lot of strong female icons we could list in the influences of this show… PJ Harvey and Madonna being top of my list. Even Madonna’s dance moves can be seen on occasion before we go full tribute with a cover of ‘Like A Prayer’. It’s a faithful cover and pretty good as far as the room reaction goes.
The set is relatively short with gaps between songs being filled with pre recorded soundbytes and dialogue. Kinda expected for someone who’s just released their debut, though. We can’t hold that against her.
A second cover of the night – which Lauren explains will change depending on where they’re playing – is Texas’s ‘You Can Say What You Want’ which is well polished and is well appreciated.
It’s impossible to go to a Lauren Mayberry solo show without Chvrches being in the back of your mind. This is the ball and chain she’ll have to work hard to shake in order to avoid her shows being Chvrches-lite. The new material has enough distance to make this possible while still holding onto the core audience.
What Chvrches has given her, however… is the stage presence and musical polish of a mega star which gives these solo shows something special. I doubt the next show will be as small.
Photos by Catching Light Photography