02 November, 2014

Wolf Alice @ Club Academy, Manchester, 22nd October 2014

Wolf Alice had a busy summer of festivals this year, including a set on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury, SXSW, and (bizarrely) a set supporting Lenny Kraviz at iTunes festival last month. It had been a while however since their last headline shows. In the confines of an underground student union, the sequined Camden four-piece took to the stage.

Following a short introduction, ‘Storms’ violently whipped the crowd off their feet and into a beer-dropping, jumping frenzy. The predominantly young crowd welcomed the fast-pace and high-energy of the first two tracks enthusiastically. Clearly swept up in the moment, lead singer Ellie Rowsell grinned as she met eyes with those singing lyrics back to her, while bassist Theo named the venue the “best place I’ve ever been”. Having a crowd react so strongly is quite the achievement with just a handful of official releases.

A full-length debut record is on it’s way however, and some new material was to be expected, with the show being one of their last before it drops. It was a brave move, but the band made the bold decision to première three new tracks back-to-back in the middle of the set. The stage set-up alone gave a glimpse of what’s been happening behind the closed doors of their studio. There was a hint of more experimentation as electronic drums, vocal effects, and an acoustic guitar had been thrown into the mix.

Releases so far have proven the band is successful in tackling two ends of the musical spectrum; with loud, grungier tracks, and the more subdued, shoegaze love songs. The new tracks displayed even more diversity and Wolf Alice’s desire not to be pigeonholed into one genre.

An electronic drum stomp (reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys ‘Do I Wanna Know?’) ran through ‘Turn To Dust’, a darker number with a reversed guitar line and haunting vocals. ‘Swallowtail’ was a slow-burning affair featuring drummer Joel on lead vocals and acoustic guitar. The distorted vocal nuances in new tracks could have been more effective, as Ellie’s second microphone was inaudible at times.

“This is a proper party song!” Theo declared, prompting the crowd back into action for ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’. Set closer and crowd favourite, ‘Bros’ benefited from the addition of a backing singer on stage tonight. The bridge is usually cut short in live performances but was lifted by the extra vocal harmony and played in its full glory.

In the eye of the chaotic finale, Ellie ditched her guitar to embrace fans on the front row. A genuine chemistry and excitement on stage resonated with the crowd. Tonight suggested there are great things ahead for Wolf Alice, while provoking further intrigue in regards to their début.

Written by - Tom Skinner

Wolf Alice played:
Your Love's Whore
Leaving You
You're A Germ
Turn To Dust
Moaning Lisa Smile