Music review: Lauren Mayberry, SWG3, Glasgow
Lauren Maybery, SWG3, Glasgow *****
“Normally when the female singer goes solo, they say she's breaking up the band,” said Lauren Mayberry during her first solo gig in Glasgow – or the first, at least, since before synth-pop trio Chvrches made her an international pop star. “That's not what’s happening.”
With news of Chvrches’ continued survival confirmed, the many, many expectant fans who made sure her modest first date at Oran Mor was quickly moved to the packed SWG3 could get on with assessing what’s different about her solo incarnation.
The answer is, it’s just as confident, just as fun, every bit still the work of a masterful pop songwriter who hits emotional buttons while capturing the spirit of the moment. The main difference is, it’s a lot more rock, from the “angry”, murderous Mantra, to the closing electro-punk roar of Sorry Etc.
Alongside a mostly electric, partly electronic band, Mayberry deliberately stayed away from any Chvrches material, although she noted the frosty, synth-heavy body horror of Under the Knife follows their “sad banger” template. Across ten songs, she threw in a couple of covers for familiarity’s sake; Madonna’s Like a Virgin and, especially for Glasgow, Texas’ Say What You Want.
The former song was the most well-suited to her voice and persona, an enduring, moment-capturing anthem. Even better, her own Crocodile Tears is a sublime, defiant, noisy pop groove, the kind of song and performance which Madonna herself would have been delivering in 1984.
Amid it all was fragile piano ballad Are You Awake?, so far the only solo single she’s released; a strange choice to make a first impression with, Mayberry acknowledged, but beautifully sung and played by her, having decided not to “pay someone else” to do the latter.
“Hometown hero is a poisoned chalice,” runs the lyric, virtually written for this moment. “If they don't love you, then you're just destined to disappoint.” They loved her, and she definitely didn’t disappoint. Her reinvention as the Glaswegian Madonna begins here.