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Review: Wolf Alice at O2 Academy

23 March 2016
Review: Wolf Alice at O2 Academy
Angsty and ethereal. Aloof yet energetic. The tone of Wolf Alice’s performance on 19th March was forever fluctuating. The support acts sufficiently roused the crowd in preparation for the headliner, whilst showcasing some of the best the UK has to offer on the Indie music scene.

First Impressions

Bloody Knives had a 90s grunge nostalgia, tongues out, hair down, and a lot of screaming. I thought this was an interesting support choice, but their energy was infectious. This contrasted nicely with the mellow presence of Swim Deep. Their summery tunes enthused the crowd, readying them for the festival season, seeming more suitable for a Californian beach than the less than tropical climate of Leeds.

Wolf Alice - Article 1Swim Deep

Now to Wolf Alice. Lead singer Ellie Roswell captivated the audience from the moment she walked on stage. She appeared cool and reserved throughout the show until the very end, beaming as she reached into the crowd whilst they frantically grabbed her hands in glee. The band was a collection of strong performers but the bassist, Theo Ellis, really stood out, bouncing around on stage. He certainly seemed to be the one enjoying himself the most.

The set list had an effective shift between guitar heavy alt-rock and the slower, mellow tracks. Your Loves Whore was a serene start to the show, but they ramped up the energy with their next song You’re a Germ.

Wolf Alice - Article 2

The highlights for me personally were their dynamic hit single Bros and drummer Joel Amey’s stunning performance of Swallowtail. The entire show was pitch perfect, sounding almost identical to the recordings. Kudos to Roswell for her excellence as a vocalist and guitarist. However, I was left wanting a bit more from the performance, that little extra flair of improvisation that you can only experience in live performance.

Staging and crowd

The enigmatic lighting and set design complemented the character of the show. Fairy lights twinkled on the backdrop of their album cover, and hazy spot lights lit up Roswell during the more intimate, ambient, slow songs. Every now and then the house lights would come up as if the audience were expected to join in before dropping into a pounding chorus.

Wolf Alice - Cover 2

The audience was split between a core circle of frantic admirers, taking every opportunity to form a mosh pit or recite the faithful chant of ‘Yorkshire’, and the rest who mutedly bopped their heads and wiggled their hips.

While executing a technically flawless performance, they didn’t quite manage to excite my full enthusiasm. It was great to stand back and enjoy the beauty of their more delicate tracks, but their grungier songs weren’t enough to get me jumping around the room. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wolf Alice’s work, but since they’ve only released one album there was more scope for them to play with some interesting covers or a variation of one of their older singles. This could have been an opportunity that I think would have taken their enjoyable performance to the next level.

By Chloe Lovatt
Chloe is a Volunteer Writer for Leeds Living covering events all across the city of Leeds, on topics such as eat/drink, retail therapy, music/dance and culture.
Photography provided by Mark Wheelwright