Photo: Robin Little / Redferns
As far as impromptu gigs go, this one will take some beating. After opening surprise tickets to see these guys, I couldn’t wait to know when I was off to see Ellie Rowsell and the gang tear up London’s South End. The fact that the gig was in a matter of hours, and we had to jump on the next train to Euston Station, was the icing on the cake.
Once the stage was aptly set following a frenetic show from the impressive Black Honey, Wolf Alice emerged to the sound of the Harry Potter theme tune mixed over some anti-brexit philosophies from Danny Dyer, perhaps implying that the whole Brexit ordeal is a story as fictional as Rowling’s tales of wizardry. Wolf Alice promptly breaking into the rock anthem of Yuk Foo, then, was no doubt an intentional nod to the band’s perspective of Britain’s latest policies abroad, while it made it pretty clear that they were in agreement with the cockney pseudo-politician. Rowsell paraded around the stage as predicted; dressed in an outfit complete with an innocent-looking dress and thick, black Doc Martens, she perfectly resembled the oxymoronic sound of Wolf Alice that we know and love. The punk-metal undercurrents intertwined in You’re a Germ and Space and Time complemented the angelic melodies of Blush and White Leather perfectly, while the different genres that Wolf Alice pride themselves in executing were sprinkled randomly throughout the set, leaving me unknowing as to whether I’d be pulled into a mosh pit, or left swaying from side to side in a collective awe with the rest of the crowd. The band’s own “Beautifully Unconventional”, in essence, would be the perfect way of describing both the brand that Rowsell has created and the performance that was put on that night. Wolf Alice truly do have the rare capacity to make punk sound blissful, without dropping the ball for fans who love a good headbang.
Brixton Academy is rightly fabled. The downward-slanting floor gave everyone in the room a perfect position to catch the four-piece jump up and down in unison with Joel Amey’s smashing of the drums, generating an electric buzz around the crowd where no individual couldn’t help but fall victim to a few nudges or spilled pints. Everyone could see the love shared between the members whom each played with a massive grin that didn’t once drop throughout the night. Never have I seen a band before who so evidently enjoyed themselves as much as Wolf Alice. Maybe it was something to do with this show being the last of their UK tour, or maybe it was because they’re a band who aren’t afraid of sacrificing cool personas and professionalism (that many groups nowadays maintain) for the commodity of showing their fans just how much fun they have playing together. This ethos reciprocated among the audience, whom too abandoned their cares and sang along to every word of Bros to the extent to which, when Rowsell cut the music for a brief second, there wasn’t a soul there that wasn’t bellowing “….Are your lights on? … Are your lights still on?!”
After admittedly questioning Visions of a Life upon its first release back in 2017; hearing the likes of Don’t Delete the Kisses alongside some of the already mentioned bangers that the band treated us to that evening, the group have only added another string to their already-impressive bow. Wolf Alice are a genre-splitting, heart-wrenching, feel-good band that serenade audiences with lyrics that just about anyone can relate to, while they’re more than capable of balancing delicate melodies with hard-hitting and infectious punk rock.