For Toronto-based band Alvvays, headlining the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 11th September was a dream come true. Featuring Molly Rankin on vocals and guitar, Kerry MacLellan on keyboards, Alec O’Hanley on guitar, Brian Murphy on bass and Phil MacIsaac on drums, the Canadian indie pop quintet didn’t put a foot wrong.
After support sets from White Reaper and Kevin Morby, the five childhood friends worked their way through a set list comprised of both new tracks and songs from their first record (which was ranked as #29 in NME’s Album Of The Year chart for 2014) with great enthusiasm and excitement. The jangly summer jams and more upbeat tracks like Adult Division and Next Of Kin contrasted the more mournful songs, which were tinged with longing from Rankin’s delicate, melancholic lyrics in tracks like Party Police and Red Planet – which Rankin performed solo.
The crowd’s favourite track was undeniably Archie, Marry Me. With beautifully crafted and meaningful lyrics (take a line such as ‘you’ve expressed explicitly/your contempt for matrimony’), it’s obvious why it was awarded Single Of The Year 2014 by Drowned In Sound and why the crowd were cheering for them to play it.
Rankin made an excellent front woman, and had the audience hanging on her every word. Alvvays seemed slightly mournful, but also full of high spirits and had a true passion for their music and performing. It’s clear why DJs Hue Stephens and Lauren Laverne are amongst their fans.
Their set ended with their own version of Kirsty MacColl’s He’s On The Beach. Not many acts will have the guts not to end with their most popular song, but Alvvays have proved they are confident in their ability to master a range of sounds – including other peoples.
Now off on their American tour, Alvvays will continue to edge towards indie pop greatness. They’re only going to get bigger and better.
Words by Annie Lunnon
TagsALVVAYS, Annie Lunnon, band, O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE,