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REVIEW: Phoenix Rises Again for CHVRCHES’ Highly-Anticipated Return (10-6-16)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Fans of Scottish synthpop / indietronica band CHVRCHES have been saving their tickets since the April show, when Martin Doherty charismatically fronted three songs before the trio had to cut their performance short unexpectedly. The group returned with an overwhelming response this past Thursday, selling out their second show at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre within six months. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry announced last minute openers Thursday afternoon, adding local indie-electronic duo MRCH to the lineup.

MRCH - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Mickey Pangburn, MRCH © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

MRCH took the stage at 8 p.m sharp, greeting fans through a haze of vibrant blue-green lights. “We are very excited to be here!” vocalist Mickey announced. “My last time at the Marquee was to see Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,” she added through smiles. Mickey radiated an energy similar to that of Debbie Harry while energetically serenading the audience with romantic, electronically-infused vocals — although the synth and percussion were a bit overpowering, making the quality of her performance difficult to hear at times. Towards the end of their set, MRCH won over the crowd with an effervescent performance of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass,’ showcasing Mickey’s unique, vintage pop sound.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

CHVRCHES wasted no time getting started, drenching the audience in a mesmerizing, strobe-like display of geometric white light and signature esoteric beats. The crowd erupted as silhouettes of Iain Cook, Martin and Lauren marched across the stage, kicking off their performance with a throwback to the April show  — “Never Ending Circles,” the first track from their latest album Every Open Eye. The group immediately engaged listeners with a few fast-tempo favorites and of course, Iain’s electrifying dance moves behind the keyboard.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Iain Cook, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

As the audience sang along Lauren’s voice cut in, “We return to the scene of the crime!” The audience responded in applause once again. “Thank you for coming back to see CHVRCHES! I know many of you came to see us many months ago, but things didn’t go as planned,” she continued, struggling to untangle a mic cord at her feet. “Much like this,” she joked. “But this  — this I can deal with.”

She went on to give an electrifying performance before handing the mic over to bandmate Martin for “High Enough To Carry You Over” and “Under The Tide,” a nostalgic selection considering the band’s courageous performance last April, in which they continued without Lauren in order to satisfy their fans. Lauren did re-appear at the end of their shortened set during the April show, fighting extreme illness in order to give fans one final song.

The band’s dedication to their fans was not lost on the people of Phoenix. Lauren’s hypnotic stage presence combined with an impeccable sixteen track set list Thursday night colluded seamlessly with the crowd’s energy, truly making this heightened performance one for the books. CHVRCHES left the stage on a high note, leaving the audience excited and hungry for more. Spectators spottily chanted “One more song! One more song,” lingering to see if the band might continue.

CHVRCHES - Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega
Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES © Kataklizmic Design
Photo Credit: Katherine Amy Vega

Suddenly Lauren took the stage once again, stepping forward to address the crowd. “I’m not trying to make you guys jealous,” she said coyly, “but I am going to see Beyonce tomorrow and I’ve got to make it all the way back to the east coast. So, we are going to play you a couple more songs.” The crowd exploded in ecstasy once again, vibrating the floor of the venue as they began to fist pump along to “Afterglow.”

At this point, the group had now performed more than double their set list from last April, and continued to pour their souls into each track making for an unforgettable display of commitment to their fans. Lauren paused, holding Martin’s drumsticks in a crisscross formation above her head as the crowd roared, begging to hear the final song of the night. CHVRCHES then concluded things with their timeless hit, “The Mother We Share” from album The Bones of What You Believe, drawing on the communal energy exhibited during the April show one last time.

Their show Thursday night was more than high enough to carry us over. In fact, we think it’s safe to say this was one of CHVRCHES’ most impressive performances to date.

by Katherine Amy Vega

CHVRCHES & MRCH – Marquee Theatre 10-6-16

Photography © Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
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