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« Chvrches at Danforth Music Hall, Monday October 5th, 2015 »

The Danforth Music Hall is one of my favourite Toronto venues. It has a long history of hosting incredible bands on their way to mainstream success, and I was lucky enough to catch a relatively new and unknown trio called The Police in 1979 there before they climbed to the top of all the global record charts and became superstars.

On Monday, October 5th, I was treated to a performance by the electronic Scottish trio Chvrches. The opening act, Mansionair, hailing from Australia, delivered great melodies with a rich sound with elements of prog rock. By the time Chvrches came out after 9pm, the audience was ready for a change of pace, and they gave us an evening of high-energy, keyboard-based music.

With a discography of two albums, “The Bones of What You Believe” from 2013, and the recently-released “Every Open Eye”, the set was never going to be a long one, but it was filled with great songs from both records. The trio is fronted by the talented Lauren Mayberry, whose voice evokes Kate Bush (and a touch of Cindy Lauper at times with the newer material) while still maintaining her distinct personality. Flanked by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty on keyboards and various instruments, she is full of warmth and energy as she delivers most of the lead vocals and occasionally bangs a mean drum.

The light show behind them did not detract from the music, bur rather enhanced it as it mirrored their beats and gave the stage greater visual interest. The only strange moment of the show happened halfway through their set, when Lauren stopped the performance to go comfort a young lady who was in tears on the floor just in front of bassist Iain Cook. I found out later, by sharing a subway ride home with the unhappy fan, that she had been harassed by a member of the security team for the use of a digital camera, and that her emotions had gotten the better of her. She received a warm hug from Mayberry and the show, as they say, went on.

Because of a foot injury, I had purchased mezzanine-level seating instead of the general admission floor section where fans stood where they wished and could dance. I do not regret the choice, given how sore I was and also because I had secured two first row seats on the balcony. The view was unobstructed and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. One of the interesting observations I could make from my high vantage point was that cellular phones were rarely evident in the audience below me, despite the young age of the average fan. This to me spoke volumes of the connection Chvrches made with their fans and the high level of personal engagement that came from the crowd. If you can, do yourselves a favour and catch these two bands on their current North American tour. They are both great fun and I believe that Chvrches will no longer be playing such small venues when they next hit our shores. This is a group on the rise, much like The Police were after I first caught them in this wonderful venue so long ago.

All photos by Anne-Marie Klein

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