Sorcha Hornett witnessed Pale Waves stepping out from the shadows of their predecessors on stage in Digbeth and tells us all about it

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Pale Waves stormed the main room of the O2 Institute in Digbeth on Tuesday 25th September for their fifth date of their fourteen date UK and Ireland Tour. The Birmingham date was sold out, surprising me slightly as the band had only recently rose to fame and their first debut album had only been released the week before. Their fame is partly down to being mentored by The 1975, Matt Healy co-producing a few of their more well-known singles, though with a nearly sold-out tour they showed that they had acquired fans by their own merits.

Being late, I missed the two support acts, Swimming Girls and King Nun, but the crowd were in good spirits and the air was buzzing with excitement. The crowd were a complete mix of people but you could tell they were Pale Waves fans. A sea of black clothes stood before me, pledging tribute to the band’s gothic aesthetic.

The lighting for the gig was one of the things I noticed most, so much effort had gone into it

The band graced the stage at 9pm on the dot to a built-up stage entrance consisting of dark lights and ambient music before bursting into their hit single ‘Television Romance’. The first gated drum crash was received with euphoria as the crowd started singing along to arguably one of their most famous singles. The band continued with their top hits, following with ‘Kiss’, ‘Eighteen’ and ‘Heavenly’. The crowd consisted of some die-hard fans but everyone knew every lyric and sung in perfect time with Heather Baron-Gracie as she moved around the stage in that effortless rock star way with a guitar slung across her shoulders.

After starting with most of their well-known songs, they launched into singles from their new album. Despite the album only being released the week before, the audience still knew every song. The lighting for the gig was one of the things I noticed most, so much effort had gone into it. There were only three colours used: black, red and white, symbolic of their goth aesthetic and album cover. The song ‘Red’ had the stage completely bathed in red light for the entire song, predictable, but it looked good. Following ‘Red’, they played ‘New Year’s Eve’ and ‘Black’. I felt these songs were still fairly well known though and would’ve liked to have seen lesser played songs performed like ‘Loveless Girl’ and ‘When Did I Lose It All?’. I felt there was an anxiety around playing slower songs, as if they didn’t want to bring the energy down. They performed ‘She’, the only slow song of the evening, and it still had an amazing reception from the audience. This is their first big tour, so it’s understandable they’re still testing the waters, however I hope in the future they feel comfortable to play even more slower and emotional songs.

Heather Baron-Gracie oozes confidence but with a sincerity that’s hard to ignore, everything is sung from the heart

Other notable favourites from the night were ‘The Tide’ and set finisher ‘Noises’, where the lyric from which the album is named after originated from. After leaving the stage, the crowd started chanting ‘My Obsession’ and it suddenly hit me they hadn’t played that song, or ‘There’s a Honey’.

The crowd got exactly what they wanted as Pale Waves graced the stage for the final time to play the two songs the crowd were desperate to hear. It was a wonderful end to the gig and it definitely finished with the same amount of energy as when they had started. Baron-Gracie is the perfect front woman for the band; she oozes confidence but with a sincerity that’s hard to ignore, everything is sung from the heart. Their first tour was definitely a success and the future is looking bright for Pale Waves. It’s clear to say they have certainly stepped out of The 1975’s shadow.

‘My Mind Makes Noises’ is available now via Dirty Hit / Interscope.