Live Review: Wolf Alice | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Live Review: Wolf Alice

Music Editor Luke Charnley checks out Wolf Alice's Birmingham show, what he finds is a band at the height of their powers

Such instant success can be dizzying for such a fresh band, and in many ways their Birmingham Academy show gave the impression of a DIY band writ large
If you are a human being, aged between 16-25, and have a modicum of indie cred about you, chances are good that you’ve heard of Wolf Alice. Since emerging in 2015 with debut record My Love is Cool, the Grammy-nominated London four-piece have experienced a breakneck ascent into the highest echelons of the UK alt-rock scene with their eclectic blend of pop-rock, grunge and shoegaze sensibilities. Such instant success can be dizzying for such a fresh band, and in many ways their Birmingham Academy show gave the impression of a DIY band writ large. But the cramped conditions and the electric atmosphere gave some indication of the feverish support surrounding what the band are doing, and this year’s sophomore album Visions of a Life operated on the basis of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ to great effect.

The Friday night show also doubled as a homecoming for opening act and labelmates Superfood. After a rocky few years of reinvention, Superfood came back in 2017 with something to prove. And, if the half an hour of music they burned through was any indication, prove it they most certainly did. Playing a set laden with cuts from their comeback album – the groove-laden Bambino -  as well as fan-pleasers from their debut, Superfood could quite easily have been mistaken for a headlining band both in their musicianship and the crowd’s reaction. One day soon, perhaps.

Wolf Alice’s emergence onto the stage was a fairly innocuous one; accompanied not by show-off set pieces or bombastic introductory music, but only by the roar of the audience, the band members took the stage and launched into ‘Heavenward’. The Visions of a Life opener whet the audience’s appetite before getting down to business with mosh-pit-baiting lead single ‘Yuk Foo’. Far from being a ‘shut up and play the hits’ kind of night, the hour and a half set took the audience on a sightseeing tour of the band’s (admittedly not extensive) discography, from early performances of new hits such as ‘Planet Hunter’ to an early set one-two punch of ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and ‘You’re a Germ’.

The middle of the set saw a short cool down for a run through some of the band’s more anthemic work: audience singalongs for ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’, ‘Bros’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Formidable Cool’ had the stage swathed in intense white light as people clambered onto shoulders to hurl the lyrics back at the band. For a band with such recent beginnings, tracks from My Love is Cool were received with the same furore that other acts would receive when airing long-forgotten classics.

Superfood could quite easily have been mistaken for a headlining band both in their musicianship and the crowd’s reaction
As the set wears on, one usually expects the energy of the crowd to thin out. Wolf Alice were not about to let that happen, however, and packed the final run of songs with quick-fire tracks such as ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ that brought the crowd back to life.[/do] After leaving on a high with ‘Fluffy’, the band returned for a short encore compromising ‘Blush’ and ‘Giant Peach’: a final blowout for an intense set. The band has very little time for unnecessary pleasantries on the night and preferred to let the tunes do the talking, with the notable exception of bassist Theo Ellis commenting on someone’s keys sailing onto the stage: ‘you’ve had a fucking nightmare!’

Whatever your opinions on Visions of a Life - whether you thought it was album of the year or whether you thought it lacked the impact of its predecessor – there’s simply no denying the vitality of Wolf Alice to the UK rock circuit: their DIY aesthetics and punk attitude are felt in every aspect of their live show, putting them at the forefront of the country’s indie movement and helping shine a spotlight on bands such as Superfood who need it. It will be interesting to see where Wolf Alice take things from here, but in their current form catching them in a crowded club or tucked away on a festival side stage feels like a truly unmissable experience.

'Visions of a Life' is available to stream now via Dirty Hit Records. To keep up to date with Wolf Alice, visit their website.

Final year English student. Music editor and pretentious nerd. (@lukechazza97)



Published

7th December 2017 at 9:00 am



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