This Wolf Alice article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse. Lead photo by JJR Photography
2015 has been a huge year for Wolf Alice. Since their last visit to Glasgow in March, they have released a seriously impressive debut album in ‘My Love is Cool,’ even being tipped for a Mercury Prize nomination. On top of that, they stormed the festival scene this summer with a series of epic live performances at Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury, making them one of the most talked about bands this year.
Having seen the band play at Oran Mor back in March, it was exciting to see them back with new material in front of a sold out crowd at the O2 ABC. They had also brought an exciting support act with them in Drenge. The brothers from Derbyshire provided an energetic opening set, featuring some new songs from their most recent album, released in April, ‘Undertow’. I’m a huge fan of their no-nonsense, post-grunge sound, something which they refined in their second LP, and I’m sure they will have won a lot more after this impressive set.
It’s a bold move choosing a band like Drenge to open up for you, but Wolf Alice are a band in their stride right now and full of confidence. With the crowd suitably warmed up, they take to the stage and open up with the understated ‘My Love is Cool’, before moving seamlessly into the epic ‘Your Loves Whore’, which provides a mass singalong.
With their debut album being so intelligently crafted and textured with genres, it is impossible to place it in one specific category, and this makes for an exciting live set. In the space of an hour, we are treated to the fun indie-pop of ‘Freazy,’ followed by the mesmerizing ‘Soapy Water’, a track which wouldn’t sound out of place on a record by The xx, and during which Ellie Rowsell leaves her guitar behind. We are then hit in the face with the thunderous, grungy sounds of ‘Fluffy’, thrashing with its guitar rage. It’s hard to believe that all of these songs come from the same band.
Admittedly, they appear more subdued than their appearance at Oran Mor and don’t have much to say between songs. However, with her growing experience, Rowsell has become a more self-assured, relaxed frontwoman. Her voice control seriously stands out throughout this performance, luring you in with its delicacy before becoming consumed with grunge-like rage. She is flanked on each side by the ever-bopping Theo Ellis, and Joff Oddie, who really impresses in his role as lead guitarist. Even drummer Joel Amey gets his chance to shine on ‘Swallowtail’, a highlight of the set. It’s a moving slow burner which builds into an epic jamming climax at the end.
The band play an impressive 16 song setlist which features their entire debut album, along with earlier fan favourites ‘Storms’, ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and ‘Blush’. These tracks hold their own beside the new ones – a testament to the quality of material Wolf Alice have built up over the past couple of years. However, the highlights of the set are ‘You’re A Germ’ and ‘Giant Peach’, with the crowd screaming every word back. Mosh pits are formed and the place descends into frenzy.
2015 has been the year of Wolf Alice. It’s only a matter of time before they’re selling out bigger venues than this.