Review: Alvvays @ Forum Melbourne

Alvvays played Forum Melbourne on 12 December, 2023.
Bron is a Melbourne-based science journalist who loves to return 'home' to a band room any chance she gets. She has 25 years' experience and has worked for Rolling Stone, Blunt, The Sydney Morning Herald, JUICE and many more.

After a sweltering, humid Melbourne day, you'd have forgiven tonight's gig goers for struggling to drum up the energy to properly celebrate the return of Canadian dream-pop heroes Alvvays.

However, with this show (12 December), their biggest ever in the Victorian capital, having been sold out for some time, it was clear that everyone still had plenty in the tank come 9.30pm when Molly Rankin and band took to the stage.

Armed with three albums released over nine years, including the phenomenal 'Blue Rev' in 2022, there was no shortage of shoegaze-tinted, noisy, melodic indie-pop rock to draw on, and the band wasted no time in getting things underway with 'Pharmacist'. From then it was a blur of songs that, when stacked back to back, make you realise there's no filler in this band's catalogue.

While always an impressive live band, Alvvays have really taken it up a notch following the recording and touring of 'Blue Rev', a record that took five years but was entirely worth the wait for fans.

What is now somewhat of a rock legend, the album was a hard one to realise – along the way, Rankin had a stack of demos for it stolen from her house after a burglary, and a subsequent flood nearly cost the band all their gear. Then 2020 happened.

But the album turned out to be what will probably become their seminal set, filled with incredible hooks and awash with that kind of melancholic nostalgia of a time that feels painfully familiar.

'Blue Rev' songs were arguably the standouts tonight, with the pure pop bliss of 'Easy On Your Own?', the Stereolab-esque 'Very Online Guy' and the Belinda Carlisle homage 'Belinda Says' some of the standouts in a set with no bad moments.

Rankin, a woman of few words onstage, was absolutely faultless at the mic and on guitar, resplendent in her college football jersey emblazoned with '69' front and back. Nice.

While 'Blue Rev' finished close to the top of about a dozen acclaimed 'best of 2022' lists, it was possible thanks to two records that set the scene before it, 2014's self-titled debut and 2017's 'Antisocialites'.

The debut's songs, in particular, sat the best alongside the newer tunes, with the catchy 'Adult Diversion' and 'Archie, Marry Me' standouts.

This current tour will probably be the last of the 'Blue Rev' promo rounds, however if the band had tired of playing songs from the record that took half a decade to put out, they certainly did not show it tonight.

In a somewhat fitting melodrama, punters filed out onto Flinders Street, ears ringing, only to be greeted with a wild summer storm, a rare occurrence in Melbourne.

While there are a handful of tickets left for their second city show tonight (13 December) at Northcote Theatre, after last night's performance, that one will also be at capacity come showtime, at the end of what is expected to be yet another sweltering, humid day.

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