The title of Wolf Alice’s Mercury nominated debut My Love Is Cool perfectly captures what I love about the North London based four-piece; they are so damn cool and they seem to know it. The album confidently combined grungy guitar riffs and vocal freak-outs with just the right amount of restraint and tenderness to make each song insanely catchy and pulsate with energy. Their follow up album, Visions From A Life released earlier this year, expanded on this style, the airy tracks getting even airier and the vicious tracks even more vicious, producing a massive sound that was just begging to be heard live. Sufficed to say, I couldn’t wait to see them play the Birmingham O2 Academy last Thursday.
And how great they were! Ellie Rowsell and the rest of the band sauntered on stage with all the quiet confidence of a group who know they’re one of the best young bands in Britain at the moment. They opened with Heavenward, enveloping the Birmingham Academy in walls of dreamy guitar before launching into the mosh pit-inducing Yuk Foo. Rowsell yelped and spat the lyrics out at the crowd who chanted every word back at her. Even with just two albums Wolf Alice have all the songs available to them to construct the perfect live set. The band effortlessly flowed between the softer, more ethereal singalong tracks such as Planet Hunter and Silk to the raucous blood-pumpers like Moaning Lisa Smile and Fluffy. The songs were performed flawlessly all night, sounding even better than on the album with the reverb soaked vocals and distorted guitars filling the venue. Rowsell had complete control over the entire O2 Academy, her voice beautifully delicate one moment, then harsh and defiant the next causing a surge of people to start backing up for another mosh. You could feel the crowd’s anticipation for each new opening chord. Every track was met with a response that made it seem like it was everyone at the gig’s personal favourite.
I’ll admit, at the end of the night I did for a second begrudge the lack of Freazy in the set list, if only because hearing its refrain (“Did you really wanna… with Alice? Did you really wanna… with the wolf?”) called out across a sea of Wolf Alice fans would’ve been awesome. But remembering yelling my lungs out along to Space and Time and countless other absolute bangers more than made up for the one omission. After Giant Peach brought the set to a close, the crowd made their way outside and you could see from the sweat soaked faces that they had got what they wanted. I definitely did.