London-born band Wolf Alice knew how to raise the roof on the last night of their UK tour. The academy was packed from floor to ceiling with energetic and high-spirited fans eager to enjoy the gig – postponed from January.
Wolf Alice have been touring their latest album, Blue Weekend, released in June 2021, so the setlist was loaded with tracks from that record. They opened with the riff-heavy ‘Smile’ and jumped around to the punky ‘Play the Greatest Hits’, but also had us swaying to slower songs like ‘Delicious Things’.
There was plenty of crowd participation and fans seemed happy transitioning from singing along to the more upbeat tracks to the slow burn of ‘Feeling Myself’, and the ascending and descending melodies in the chorus of ‘How Can I Make It OK?’.
The band’s second album, Visions of a Life, won the 2018 Mercury Prize. So of course they made space in the set for grungy, dirty ‘Formidable Cool’, before ending the encore with the electronic vibes of ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’. In a hark back to debut album My Love is Cool, they also played ‘You’re A Germ’ and finished the main set with ‘Giant Peach’. Both songs fuse rock with electronic and sound like what you might get if you crossed Radiohead and Ladyhawke.
Dressed for the office?
Guitarist Joff Oddie and singer Ellie Rowsell both chose to dress in office wear on stage (the others obviously didn’t get the memo). Joff looked like he could have just travelled up from Canary Wharf. It led to a spectacularly surreal moment where Ellie started crowd surfing in a suit jacket. I’ve definitely not seen that before.
Vocally Ellie is versatile enough to bring the power needed to their angsty numbers, as well as a delicacy to their more melodic tunes like ‘Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall in Love)’ and ‘The Last Man On Earth’ (which by the way has the longest intro ever – an ‘endless intro’ in Ellie’s own words).
Trying to define Wolf Alice’s genre is difficult. There’s dreamy pop, there’s rock, there’s punk, there’s electronic (I could go on). This makes for an interestingly unpredictable set of songs. But, honestly, that can distract from the story they’re trying to tell and your understanding of what they stand for. Later this year they’ll go on to support both Harry Styles’ European stadium tour, and play just before the Arctic Monkeys at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival. Two very different acts. Still, I think I might be in the minority feeling this way as they’ve certainly got a huge following and there’s been talk of them moving to stadiums on their next tour.
Overall, they put on a great show bursting with energy and emotion. The high point was guitar anthem ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, and the addition of Ryan Malcolm on keys for this tour added a new dimension to the band’s dynamic.
You’re a Germ
Lipstick on the Glass
Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall in Love)
How Can I Make It OK?
Play the Greatest Hits
Visions of a Life
Moaning Lisa Smile
No Hard Feelings
The Last Man on Earth
Don’t Delete the Kisses
Photographs by: Ian Dunn
Review by: Chrissie Duxson