Live Review // Wolf Alive @ Bristol o2 Academy - 16/09/2015

by HannahSweetnam
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on 18 September 2015 in Live
Rating 9/10

If there was any one thing that could have made this gig more complete, it would be being able to see the band on stage. Packed out to the rafters, there is one thing for certain; this gig was a sell out. Crammed in amongst hundreds of sweaty alt-rock lovers, this was not a gig for the feint-hearted but should you enjoy the atmosphere of a true post-grunge gig - sticky floors and all - this was the place for you.

Setting aside the aroma that filled the corridors, once inside the belly of the beast and among animated audience members, all of the sweat and grime seemed insignificant, down to the unadulterated anticipation in the air. 

Kicking off the bill was Made Violent, from Buffalo, New York. Their strong rock ‘n’ roll influences had no trouble in catching this audience’s attention and had the crowd rocking out from early doors. Following was Drenge, spawn of the Sheffield alt-rock scene, who rose to prominence at the recommendation of now, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, back in 2013. Their post-grunge, come post-indie sound converted what had the potential to be an uncultivated din expertly into astounding melancholic melodies and haunting soundscapes.

But at 9.30pm the show really began, as Wolf Alice crossed the threshold and entered the stage. Beginning with a melodic hum titled ‘My Love is Cool’, the band led smoothly into ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and ‘Freazy’ to which the crowd, metaphorically speaking, lost their s**t. ‘Bros’ was also, of course, a huge crowd pleaser, being re-released earlier this year and there was not one song that the loyal horde didn’t embrace.

The band has come a long way from their acoustic, near folksy, roots, now emitting a prolific wall of noise that ricocheted from every corner of the 02 Academy. Announcing this as the first time the band have played their full album, lead singer, Ellie Rowsell, wowed the crowd with her evocative and acrobatic vocals, intertwined with gorgeous harmonies from their two backing singers.

The performance was not merely about great music, however. When it was possible to steal a glance at the stage through the bobbing sea of heads and waving arms, a dazzling light show accompanied the band’s audacious melodies. Whilst the quartet said very little during the performance their stage-presence was plentiful and dull moments within the set were few and far between.

Where other artists have attempted the daring pastiche of 90’s alt-rock entwined with post-punk flourishes, Wolf Alice have managed to hit the nail pretty much perfectly on the head. Joey Amey and Theo Ellis held down the unsullied rhythm, as guitarist Jeff Oddie took dominion, unleashing mind-expanding embellishments over Rowsell’s vocals.

Ending with the heavy droning gauze of tremendous distortion that is 'Moaning Lisa Smile', the band returned to stage for a set completing encore of 'Turn to Dust', 'Blush' and 'Giant Peach'. As the crowd poignantly sang along with the cosmically blissful line, "are you happy now?" the only possible retort could be, HELL YES.


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