Live Music + Gig Reviews

Wolf Alice @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

3 April 2015

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

With only a couple of EPs under their belt to date, Wolf Alice have barely an hour’s worth of tunes to choose from in live performances. Yet they have enough momentum on their side to headline a venue like Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Easter weekend. It’s a pretty unbelievable turn of events on paper, but it’s taken a lot of time for this London quartet to get to this point. Starting out in 2010 (before the addition of a rhythm section), they’ve gradually gotten louder and bigger, to the point where it seems impossible to ignore them.

Despite their long-awaited debut album My Love Is Cool’s release being still several weeks away, there is a lot of love in the room for Wolf Alice; months and months of touring have seen them build a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase. Even before they arrive on stage, there is a vigorous sway in the crowd, as if their excitement just can’t be contained. The scream that erupts when they arrive is deafening.

In past interviews, they’ve spoken of the decision they made to take their time with recording a debut LP, as opposed to rushing out something in the heat of the moment. As such, the Wolf Alice that this near-sold out crowd witnesses is one that has the confidence and presence of a far more established outfit. It all makes for a remarkably proficient performance that marks them out as a fascinating and exciting proposition.

The high point is Giant Peach – a big, thrilling conclusion to the main set. However, there’s plenty of other heavy chunks of pure unadulterated joy. Fluffy, the opener, is more deadly and potent live than on record and immediately sets a feverish tone; it might just be the insane amount of strobe lights, but it’s infectiously energetic. Later on, they wheel out She and Storms, both of which are highly enjoyable and the brilliant Moaning Lisa Smile, which brings everything to a close, feels celebratory. The moments where things get a little more tender are perhaps even more special. Ellie Roswell conveys an alluring sense of unease and uncertainty in Blush, one of the evening’s big singalongs.

By the time the last of the confetti falls onto the ground and the squeals of feedback subside, Wolf Alice have pretty much shown everything they’ve got – showing off all the tricks they can do and all the razor-sharp melodies and hooks they can muster. What they do demonstrate is a willingness to go wherever the wind takes them, and that is why they are such an astonishing prospect. And yet, even though they plenty of ground already, there’s the sense that greater things are afoot if they continue to play around with their sound. The chances are when festival season comes around, they’ll be at full throttle and will take no prisoners. As Good Fridays go, it’s been a particularly good one.

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