Wolf Alice’s intimate UK tour kicked off in the heart of England at Derby’s prime music venue – aptly called The Venue. Scheduled before the release of their second album, ‘Visions of a Life’, the tour acts as a kind of warm-up for their huge European tour this autumn, which will see them headlining London’s Alexandra Palace for the first time ever.
Arriving too late to catch the support band, we wait excitedly for Wolf Alice to hit the stage, the atmosphere – and the heat – steadily building as the time nears 9:30. The fans vary in age – the front row consisting of both glitter-adorned teens and fans of an older generation; who are certainly not afraid to get amongst the rowdy cluster of bodies in order to get a good view of the London four-piece.
The band opens with one of their new releases – ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ – lead vocalist Ellie Rowsell looking as cool and nonchalant as ever in low-rise jeans and hair styled in a slicked-back low bun. The ethereal, electronic sound of the track captivates the crowd and though it perhaps isn’t the liveliest track to kick off the gig with, it certainly shows off Rowsell’s stunning vocal range.
The crowd surges into life as the familiar sound of the band’s arguably most well-known track, ‘Bros’, emanates from the stage, and is followed by the punchy punk record, ‘You’re a Germ’ which is met with a swarm of excitement. By this point, the cosy venue is swelteringly hot and those in the front row seem to decide, in an almost synchronous fashion, to embrace the sweat and get stuck in.
Before the band play tracks fresh off their new album, bassist Theo Ellis advises the crowd to watch the gig with their eyes rather than through their phones and people certainly seem to listen, pocketing their devices in unanimous agreement with his sentiment. Short but not so sweet; the fierce and spluttering ‘Yuk Foo’ is a hit with the sell-out crowd, who almost breathe a sigh of relief when the soft, silvery melodies of ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Blush’ arrive to bring a touch of calm to the sweaty room.
Another brand new track, ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, is played, following its premiere on Radio 1 as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record, just the night before the gig. The pop-funk track injects a fresh and very different energy into the crowd – its sound standing in direct contrast to that of ‘Yuk Foo’ and ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ – which perhaps raises some questions about the cohesiveness of this new album.
Having starred in the trailer and soundtrack for T2 Trainspotting, the epic ‘Silk’ is lapped up by the crowd and murmurs of ‘trainspotting’ can be heard as the first riffs of the song are instantly recognised. Rowsell’s voice is accompanied beautifully by the vocals of the guitarist, Joff Oddie, and the drummer, Joel Amey, but it is her individual talent that has everyone hooked.
Wolf Alice ensures that every member of the crowd is thoroughly drenched in sweat by the end of the performance by thrashing out some of their most punk-influenced classics – ‘Fluffy’, ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and the brilliant ‘Giant Peach’ as the encore. Rowsell’s ability to shift from angelic vocals to earth-shattering screeches is impressive, and the energy of the entire band does not relent until The Venue’s main lights are switched on (revealing a horde of extremely sweaty and exhilarated people).
The band has told their Twitter followers that they are ‘immensely proud of this album’ and Ellis’ remark about living in the moment as they revealed snippets of ‘Visions of a Life’ certainly reflects this feeling. In a slight lean away from the Indie rock style of their debut album, their second album promises invigorating, psychedelic music.
Personally, I feel their development will receive praise as fans are allowed to see the full extent of the band’s raw and exciting talent. Their album release and European tour are sure to reinstate their prominence on the alternative music scene and I have a feeling that their following is set to increase as more people fall in love with the effortlessly cool sound of Wolf Alice.
By Lucy Wharton