Gig review: Chvrches and SOAK at Leeds Metropolitan University

Chvrches. Picture: Elliot Lee Hazel

Chvrches. Picture: Elliot Lee Hazel

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SOAK is the alias of Irish 17-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson, a self-assured female singer-songwriter in the mould of fellow young artists Emmy the Great and Laura Marling.

SOAK’s music sits more comfortably in the latter camp, performing a simple set of haunting acoustic melodies. Although singing with a breathy, curling intonation similar to the hippy quirks of artists like Emeliana Torrini and Sarah Blasko, she still manages to portray a bleak vision of alt-folk for somebody so young. SOAK has already been snapped up by Chvrches’ own label Goodbye Records – bolstered by a great remix of her signature tune Blud – so we may well be hearing more from her throughout the year.

Scottish electro band Chvrches have been busily hawking their brilliant debut album The Bones of What You Believe for some time now. Singer Lauren Mayberry alludes to this early on, commenting on how the crowds have grown since their first visit to Leeds. But their current fame appears to have barely fazed them. Actually, if anything, instead of being enthused by tonight’s capacity crowd, Mayberry cuts a somewhat guarded stage presence, seemingly reluctant to fully let go and engage with the pop star power bestowed upon her.

That’s probably why the highlight of tonight’s show happens when Martin Doherty steps out from behind the drum machines to jump about like a loon on Under the Tide, thus aptly highlighting a slight conflict in the group’s live performance. There appears to be an inbalance between the trio wanting to be both a polished pop group and something more volatile. The neon lights and triggered beats suggest a rave could break out at any moment, but it never quite materialises. Tracks like The Mother We Share, Recover and Gun all display a masterful accuracy in penning impeccable, fizzy pop, but a few more rougher edges wouldn’t go amiss either.

Gig date: March 9

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