The August Bank Holiday weekend traditionally marks the point in this country at which the summer festival season ends and the early autumn gig tours begin. On tonight’s evidence alone it is a staging post that Alvvays are able to pass with consummate ease and no little self-assurance.
Coming straight off the back of lauded slots on consecutive nights at the Reading and Leeds festivals, Alvvays blow into York at the start of a further series of dates in the UK and Ireland. Piped onto the Duchess stage by a rousing Celtic-inspired anthem – a nod to frontwoman Molly Rankin’s ancestral roots – the Toronto five-piece hit the floor running with ‘Ones Who Love You’ from last year’s self-titled debut album.
With the effervescence of Molly Rankin’s voice and the chiming guitars and sparkling rush of their vibrant melodies, you can still hear echoes of The Primitives, Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub and numerous other British indie-pop bands of that era in the Alvvays sound. And they may well still be touting around the nine tracks that comprise their rather excellent first offering, but having spent the past 15 months touring relentlessly, these songs now pack a far greater musical heft, singular authority and emotional punch.
Already an essential soundtrack to vulnerability and yearning, 150 shows and thousands upon thousands of miles in between have imbued it with a fresh resilience and hardened resolve. ‘Adult Diversion’ and ‘Atop a Cake’ still crackle and fizz with bristling energy, though ‘Red Planet’ has been transformed into an emotional tour-de-force with Rankin’s magnificent vocal delivery resting somewhere alongside that of a wounded torch singer. And when she says “OK, Kerri, this is our moment” before launching into ‘Party Police’ she is clearly not kidding. The gorgeous swell of MacLellan’s keyboards relocates this song from the studio into an altogether different, far more cerebral place in the sonic stratosphere.
But it has not just been about Travelodges and touring for Alvvays this past year. As to their setlist, they have now added some new songs; further road-tested here tonight – along with a fantastic cover of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘He’s On The Beach’ which they hold back for a thoroughly well-deserved encore – these new tunes affirm the more determined, muscular approach the band now have towards their music and the greater individual stamp they are placing upon it.
Some more photos from this show can be found here
The tour of UK and Ireland continues at:
31st August – The Leadmill, Sheffield
1st September – The Globe, Cardiff
2nd September – The Fleece, Bristol
3rd September – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
5th September – Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Ireland
6th September – End Of The Road festival, Larmer Tree Gardens
7th September – Concorde 2, Brighton
9th September – Òran Mór, Glasgow
10th September – Academy 2, Manchester
11th September – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London