Live: Alvvays – Thekla – 31/1/15


In soft acquiescence with the melancholy, Alvvays soundtrack the adventures of post-teen life as if through an Instagram filter. A boat in Bristol is perhaps the perfect setting for the Canadian five-piece; you have to wonder if it’s the water beneath you swaying the crowd or indeed lead-singer Molly Rankin’s crooning voice that undulates the bodies onboard The Thekla.

Alvvays are captivating from the outset. They don’t need to jump around on stage or convince the crowd to come closer, they don’t even need to look hugely inspired by their instruments; their sound is consuming enough. “Too late to go out, too young to stay in,” from the soaring ‘Archie, Marry Me’ ripples through the crowd, one that feels charged with a collective energy of indeed not staying at home this evening.

Between songs the band talk with a deadpan wit, Rankin and guitarist Alex O’Hanley delivering anecdotes with irresistible and hilarious charm. Self-aware and introspective, Rankin jokes about how the subdued nature of their shows really isn’t deserving of crowd barriers, and later tells the audience “you’re all nice, not belligerent though.” 

Later the slow cadences of ‘Party Police’ wrap the crowd in a blanket of soft reverb and trembling synths, the line “we could find comfort in debauchery” painting the faces of Thekla with indulgent intentions. At points, however, Rankin’s vocal becomes dislocated from the fuzz of instruments behind her, with a tone so piquant and bracing that other elements easily fade into insignificance. They melt back together when co-founder of the band, Kerri MacLellan, comes in with harmonies and synth lines that dance around Rankin’s melody and transform Alvvays back in to the cohesive, mellifluous bubble that they are.

With a duration of 50 minutes – inclusive of a two-song encore – it feels like a relatively short set. Yet, when only playing songs off a single album, it at no point feels dragged out, but well balanced and vital. Alvvays remain a fascinating paradox until they walk off the stage; bright guitar tones coalesce with morose vocal acrimony and tease your feelings. You leave the show feeling invigorated, but emotionally laid bare. Stirred and awoken, Alvvays will transport you to a place of calm; for a moment you can believe you’re in a snowy Canadian mountain range, and not in fact a rainy Bristol NCP.