Live Review: Wolf Alice

Barrowlands Ballroom, 16/11

If the British indie scene of today is merely an extension of high school, then Wolf Alice are – unquestionably – the coolest kids in the canteen. They’re the kind that loll against walls with earphones in, quietly toe-tapping while everyone else scurries along to class. The kind that you fantasise about swapping old records with as you sit, slack-jawed, in third period maths. They’re the kind you just know have a few stick-and-poke tattoos concealed beneath their shirtsleeves. They radiate coolness, even if they’re not aware of it themselves.

Those that do acknowledge the merit of the London four-piece appeared outside Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom in droves, glitter-smeared and happy. That the show should be sold-out is testament to the band’s skyrocketing popularity.

Shaggy-haired foursome Bloody Knees opened the show with a grungy explosion of growled vocals and raucous guitars. Swim Deep followed soon after, bringing their brand of dreamy indie pop to Scotland’s most iconic venue.  “Don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy”, frontman Austin Williams sagely advised over a sea of hazy guitars on ‘Honey.  

Once the lights had been extinguished, Wolf Alice dived headlong into their own set, tearing through the anthems that comprise their 2015 debut album My Love is Cool. “You ain’t going to heaven, ‘cause I’m dragging you down to hell,” Ellie Rowsell screeched on ‘You’re a Germ’, a grunge banger that brims with rage. Then it was onto ‘Bros, an ode to friendship that makes you want to throw your arms around your mates and tearfully proclaim your love for them.

The band begun to wind down the set with ‘90 Mile Beach, a tranquil offering from the Blush EP. This – along with tracks like ‘The Wonderwhy’ and ‘Turn to Dust’ – prove the band’s sound can be as changeable as the Scottish weather: thunderous and brutal one minute, light and breezy the next. Ellie Rowsell was certainly the driving force behind this versatility, her vocals alternating between throat-shredding screams and soft whispers.

After the gargantuan ‘Moaning Lisa Smile, the band exited the stage briefly, leaving exhilarated fans to chorus “One more tune! One more tune!” The London outfit were quick to return with a three-song encore. The tear-invoking fragility of ‘Blushwas followed up by ‘Giant Peach’, an eruption of guitars, drums and screeched lyrics.

As the last note rung out, we were left to draw one conclusion: Wolf Alice are at the top of their musical game, and are showing no signs of slowing down.

[Morgan Laing]


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