Live Review: Alvvays // Chalk, Brighton, 27.06.24

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Canadian indie pop band Alvvays illustrated why their latest album was so critically acclaimed with a high-energy, vocally and instrumentally stunning performance at Brighton’s Chalk. Despite the smaller venue, the enthusiasm from the crowd made the nightclub feel enormous. Alvvays were a joy to watch, and I imagine they will only become more impressive as they release more music.

The majority of the setlist consisted of the band’s newest album, Blue Rev, which was released in 2022. They opened with the energetic, guitar-heavy ‘Easy On Your Own’, establishing a high-intensity atmosphere that persisted throughout the set. Vocalist Molly Rankin managed to shine through in a song that features such impressive and powerful instrumentals. She continued to demonstrate her incredible vocals throughout the show, often remarkably sounding more astonishing live than on the studio-recorded releases. After a few technical issues (which resulted in ‘Pharmacist’ being cut from the final setlist, the only Blue Rev track that was unplayed), they transitioned into ‘Bored in Bristol’, one of my personal favourites. The bridge never fails to give me chills, and the dreamy tone of the song left the audience fully captivated.

Another energetic performance came with ‘After The Earthquake’, with the jangly and exciting first two minutes of the song giving way to the slow, contemplative bridge, before the guitars and drums roar back in for the final thirty seconds, ramping up the crowd’s energy successfully. They then played their first song from their second album, Antisocialites. ‘In Undertow’ was another catchy, fun performance, well-known by the fans. This was swiftly followed by the acoustically joyful ‘Many Mirrors’, and the lofi ‘Very Online Guy’, both of which expertly demonstrated the new and fascinating sounds that Blue Rev explored. 

‘Adult Diversion’ took the band back to their roots, with the audience belting out the chorus enthusiastically. The slower-paced ‘Not My Baby’ and ‘Hey’ gave us time to breathe after the upbeat and fast-paced first few songs. ‘Atop A Cake’ was a rare but very welcome addition to the setlist, possibly my favourite song off Alvvays’s debut album. The rest of the setlist was dedicated to the remaining songs from Blue Rev, with ‘Dreams Tonite’ and ‘Archie, Marry Me’ paying homage to the first two albums to the crowd’s obvious delight. ‘Belinda Says’ was one of the standout performances for me, with the synthy production, beautiful vocals and astonishing guitar solos epitomising the singularity of Alvvays’s sound as a band.

The sheer stamina of the performance was a highlight of the show, with the band barely taking a breath between songs. The only true break came before the encore, leaving the audience feeling satisfied by the range of songs they heard live. Although their newest album did dominate the setlist, the fan favourites were still an integral part of the show, especially the incredibly popular ‘Archie, Marry Me’. The song is such a joy to sing along to and was clearly highly anticipated by the crowd, especially given its memorable opening guitar riff. Accompanied by vibrant yellows and blues on the screen behind them, it encapsulated the joy and excitement within the room perfectly.

The final song before the encore helped to shift the mood slightly, with the slower, more melancholy ‘Lottery Noises’ allowing Rankin to display her vocal prowess once more, and winding down the show as the night drew to an end.  

In contrast, the encore song, ‘Next of Kin’, was a great final choice, with its mellow lyrics and catchy guitar riffs to maintain the energy of the show. Ending with a song from their first album cements their wish to show love for the songs that fans fell in love with initially, demonstrating the innate understanding Alvvays has with their audience. 

Alvvays are an underrated but truly astonishing band. Although you may only know their most popular releases, their discography is remarkable, and every song contains something truly special. Seeing them live further increased my love for their music, and my only wish was that they could have included all of their released songs on the setlist.   

Words by Emily Nutbean


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