Alvvays – Roundhouse, London – 23rd February 2018

Photo by Christian Middleton

Alvvays have blown up even further since the release of last year’s Antisocialites. The band were always on a strong trajectory and, let’s face it, indie-pop fame and success were always coming for them. Alvvays are one of today’s most essential indie-pop bands, reigniting a flame in a genre that was once inescapable ten years ago that has now taken a back-seat. Alvvays are very much the frontrunners in their domain. They’re a band full of riffs, great production, lyrics and fantastic singing. Alvvays are a full package, people don’t like them just for one trait in their sound, their music is immersive, infectious and something that comes with a wink and a smile.

When their sound is brought to a large capacity venue like the Roundhouse, it fits like a glove. They’re so at home in this context, it’s just bound to boost them even further. ‘In Undertow’, the opening track from Antisocialites makes it immediately clear that Alvvays are a huge venue band playing a large one. As goes with playing these sized shows, the polish is high and there is no room, nor chance, for any on stage error.

Visually, everything is stunning tonight. The Roundhouse as a space is a really good one to be in visually, as far as bigger venues go the Roundhouse is definitely a gem. The backdrop to the band is nothing more than computer-generated visuals but they play very well to the band’s sound. On stage the sound is spot on and very true to the studio recordings of the band. The Roundhouse is an odd one. It’s a large venue for sure but it keeps a sense of intimacy between artists and audience. There isn’t anything between the band and audience and this stirs up a lot of excitement. Their music is so bright and bouncy that the room does turn into a group of very excitable fans, it’s hard to just spectate on them, you want to join in.

Being as big as Alvvays currently are, their set lists can pretty much contain everything they could want to play. The band’s discography probably clocks in around an hour and ten but their set time is much longer. This leaves room to hear every Alvvays track that a fan could want to hear and the fan response to each song is massive. ‘Archie, Marry Me’ sounds like it would’ve been written with shows like these in mind. It fits the context of the show tonight so well that I think it’ll change the way I listen to the song. Molly Rankin’s vocals are spot on, everything sonically is spot on tonight in fact.

Part of Alvvays’ appeal is their well-crafted and relatable lyrical content. Their songs tend to take influence from relationships and friendships, they are very pro-social. However, these songs don’t sound so much like personal words from Molly Rankin but more like the experience of whomever is listening to the music. Her way of crafting songs unveils the words you wish you had at the time to explain a situation. Her vocal delivery is what makes these words so meaningful to people, though, with the simple everyday thoughts/experiences sounding like something far grander and more beautiful than they probably were. This is one of the reasons why Alvvays’ fanbase is so dedicated to them.

As a long-time fan of the band, tonight was my first chance to see them and you couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Alvvays have a very good eye and ear for writing songs that mean a great deal to their listeners. It’s what takes them beyond being just another group and being something special. The demand for great melodies and choruses is never going to die anytime soon. Alvvays can rest easy that next time they return there will be a crowd waiting, and a larger one than this time.

Chris Middleton